FT’s dragnet brings in another haul of hopeless hold-up artists, bungling burglars and literal-minded money launderers
NOT UP TO SCRATCH
Armed robber Henderson Domingo was jailed for 14 years for a series of crimes after police apprehended him when he attempted to claim his winnings on several scratch cards he had stolen at knifepoint during one of his robberies in Putney, south London. Police connected the cards to the crime and used CCTV to identify him. S. Express, 10 Jul 2022.
After seeing Mason Stapely driving erratically near Payson, Arizona, police pulled him over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). They found that he was not only drunk, but high on methamphetamine as well. He also had a screech owl with him in the car. He was arrested for aggravated DUI and possession of meth and questioned about the owl. He told officers that it had been found by another driver along the road, who had then sold it to him for $100 at a gas station, so they added illegal possession of wildlife to the charge sheet. The police department used the case to highlight the dangers of meth abuse on Facebook, saying: “The Payson Police Department would also like to take this opportunity to encourage the public not to use methamphetamine or you too may find yourself illegally purchasing a wild owl, for $100, in the middle of the night, from strangers, at a local gas station”. azfamily.com, 11 Nov 2022.
While being questioned by police on suspicion of drug dealing, David Owens’s denials were undermined by his own phone: it went off during the interrogation with a ring tone saying, “It’s your drug dealer”. This prompted a search of his house that revealed £900 worth of heroin, drug paraphernalia and a substantial amount of cash, earning him a prison sentence of four years and three months. Sun, 25 Jun 2022.
Following an argument with his girlfriend, Michael Conley Loyd stormed into a branch of the Bank of America in Springfield, Missouri, and thrust a note over the counter saying, “Give Your Money Now. Don’t Say Anything. I Have A Partner Outside.” The bank worker complied and gave Loyd $754, after which he fled in a black pickup truck that he had stolen from his housemate. Police swiftly gave chase, and, in a panic, Loyd threw the money out of the truck, along with his ID and the note, which was written on the back of his birth certificate. This enabled police to easily trace him to the Lazy Acres Mobile Home Park where he lived and arrest him, assisted by the ankle tag he was still wearing as part of his bail conditions for a previous offence. Loyd told police that he had robbed the bank to “prove a point” to his girlfriend, although it is unclear what point he was trying to make. mirror.co.uk, 21 Nov 2022.
ACTUAL MONEY LAUNDERING
When police in Stoke on Trent raided the home of suspected drug dealer and money launderer Christopher Morrey, they discovered that he seemed to take money laundering more literally than most; much of the £322,000 recovered was found hidden in his washing machine. BBC News, 23 June 2022.
Clint Bonney, 34, attracted police attention by driving off without paying for fuel in Erskineville, Sydney, Australia. Before they could catch up with him, he raided an ice cream delivery truck and stole several tubs from a pallet, then crashed into a power pole and a taxi, causing a multiple pile-up. When police did finally arrive, Bonney drove his car at them, but missed, felling another power pole. Searching his car they found a knife, meth and two tubs of ice cream, and arrested him on multiple charges. S.Telegraph (Sydney), 14 Aug 2022.
Bellevue in Washington State has been plagued by gangs of shoplifters targeting luxury goods stores, but an attempted
heist at the city’s Louis Vuitton shop did not go well for one gang member. After grabbing $18,000 (£15,000) worth of goods from the displays, the 17-year-old sprinted for the door but misjudged his exit and hit a plate glass window at full tilt, knocking himself unconscious and enabling the police to make an easy arrest. news.com.au, 8 Nov 2022.
SHOT IN THE DARK
Two burglars, armed and dressed in police riot gear, attempted to raid a house in Katy, near Houston, Texas, by kicking in the front door. The noise roused the owner and his two sons and they confronted the crooks, who opened fire on entering the dark house. In the ensuing confusion, one of the burglars mistook his accomplice for a real police officer and shot him, resulting in the man dropping his weapon and fleeing the building, wounded, apparently also believing that his attacker was a real policeman. He jumped into a getaway car driven by a third man and escaped, after which one of the sons picked up the dropped gun and shot the remaining raider dead. mirror.co.uk, 14 Nov 2022.
Martin Travers’s scheme to hold up a post office involved wearing a mask, hoodie and sunglasses to disguise himself, and carrying a red shoebox. He went into a central Birmingham post office and demanded the cashier put money in the box, but she could not understand what he was saying because of the mask. Travers then put a piece of paper on the counter listing his demands, but she could not read his handwriting either, so he said, “You have 40 seconds, put the money in the box.” Still unable to make himself understood, Travers picked up his note and left in frustration. He then tried again at a bookmakers in Broad Street, but his mask still rendered his speech unintelligible, so he thrust his note at a staff member instead: unfortunately, it was the wrong way up, so all the cashier could see was some phone numbers. Travers then told her that he had something in the box “that could go off”. This she understood, so she pressed an alarm that summoned police while Travers fled after grabbing £15 from the till. He threw the box in a bin on the way out, from which police retrieved it and found it contained a crude fake bomb. They easily tracked Travers down using CCTV, resulting in a prosecution for attempted robbery and a prison sentence of four years and 10 months. express.co.uk, 25 Oct 2022.
HIT OR MISS
A business in Westlake, Ohio, contacted police after receiving suspicious voicemails. It seemed that someone attempting to hire a hitman to kill his son for $5,000 had called their number by mistake. Police traced the messages to a 58-year-old man from Cleveland, who admitted making the calls, saying he had made them after an argument with his son and that they were the result of poor judgement while drunk, but he was still arrested and charged with felony complicity to commit murder. news5cleveland.com, 21 Oct 2022.
Armed with a gun,Vernon Forest Wilson, 67, tried to break into a house in North Carolina by forcing his way through the front door while the owner was returning from his car in the driveway. However, the resident fought back, even after Wilson had fired the gun, grazing the man in the chest. He tried to shut the door, while Wilson struggled to pull it open, but eventually managed to slam it on the intruder’s hand. Wilson then fled the scene, leaving behind his glove, containing a severed finger, trapped in the door. It was then a simple matter for police to track down Wilson using his fingerprints and arrest him. boingboing.net, 11 Oct 2022.