A very popular part of Shooting Times for almost three decades was a monthly section called "The Dumb Crook Lineup." For readers who aren't familiar with him, the author of those installments was Jerry R. Constantino. Jerry was part of the ST team from 1961 until 2001, and during those years he held many positions with the magazine, including assistant advertising manager, advertising manager, managing director, publisher, executive vice president, and president. We're pleased to present these excerpts from Jerry's columns as part of our year-long 50th anniversary celebration. Here's a tip of the ST cap to Jerry for his many years of service.
Are crooks smart? Or are they dumb? Television likes to portray smart, sophisticated crooks (unless they're "heavies") and smarter, more sophisticated detectives. But violent criminals, especially those who use guns, are always dumb crooks--always.
In Chicago, a man went into a store and announced a holdup as he brandished a gun. As the man pulled the magazine out of the gun to show the store manager it was loaded, the gun discharged, shooting off the crook's finger. The gunman regained his composure and fled, taking a television set and $5.
Police are using the finger to obtain a fingerprint that will subsequently, it is hoped, convict the robber.
***Of all the great dumb crook stories, the strangest has to be the one about Yugoslavian Siamese twins Ennio and Mario Borovac. The 35-year-old brothers were joined at the stomach and chest and shared vital organs. Unfortunately, they also shared breathing space, and Mario had bad breath.
Ennio tried and tried to tell Mario to do something about his breath, but Mario simply wouldn't brush his teeth! Mario finally got tired of the lectures and slapped Ennio in the face. Ennio plotted his revenge. He got a gun and shot his brother. Twenty minutes later, Ennio bled to death.
The police belatedly charged Ennio with first-degree murder--although shooting his brother was technically suicide.
***Having a bad day? Maybe it's not as bad as you think. This is a bad day.
In a bumbling rampage that covered three square miles of southwest Houston, Texas, and lasted only an hour, a crook the police later nicknamed "Lucky" robbed a McDonald's, ran to a nearby auto parts store and took a hostage, shot at a police officer, released the hostage and grabbed a second one with a car, forced the second hostage to drive to a condominium complex, kicked open a door, got into a gunfight with one resident, tried to steal another's car but couldn't get past the complex's electronic security gate, ran to a nearby Dairy Queen and tried to commandeer a meat truck, was beaten and disarmed by the truck driver, escaped and ran into a residential area and began jumping fences, landed in one backyard where he was attacked by a terrier, jumped another fence and landed in a yard where he was attacked by a pair of German shepherds, managed to get away from the German shepherds but was taken into custody by police and charged with six felonies.
Still think you're having a bad day?
***One winning dumb crook is the good driver who was leading police on a high-speed chase through suburbia. Skillfully, the police stayed on his tail despite the crook's twists and turns and daring evasive action.
How were police able to stay with him? Good driving? Luck? Maybe a combination of both — and the fact that the escapee, like every good driver, properly used his turning signals for each and every 100-mph turn.
***An East Coast burglar loves shiny shoes. Sometimes he polishes his shoes two or three times a day. He was convicted after evidence showed he paused during a burglary long enough to shine his shoes, leaving his can of shoe polish and a personalized rag behind.
When asked by his public defender, "You almost have a fetish about your shoes don't you?" the man answered, "Yes, I do."
If the shoe fitsâ€¦
***A prisoner spent two days "highlighting" his body (private parts and all) with yellow marker pens in an attempt to convince his warden that he had a severe case of jaundice. He wanted a transfer to a hospital where he could escape more easily.
He almost got away with it until one night a guard caught him marking up his face.
***A man who robbed a liquor store with a shotgun told the clerk to give him the bottle of scotch he saw on the back counter. The clerk refused because he didn't believe the crook was 21. The robber quickly whipped out his driver's license to prove the fact. The clerk, satisfied, put the scotch in a bag, and the robber left happy--until the police showed up at the address listed on the driver's license and arrested him.
***Best and last, this Filipino man must have learned his crime skills by watching Wyle E. Coyote. On a flight to Manila, he donned a ski mask and swimming goggles, then pulled a gun and a hand grenade and announced he was hijacking the plane. When the pilot convinced him that the plane was low on fuel, the hijacker decided to simply rob the passengers. With $15,000 in loot, he ordered the pilot to lower the plane to 6,500 feet. He strapped on a homemade parachute and told the attendant to open the door. The hijacker had trouble getting through the door with his parachute on, so the attendant helped by pushing him out. Before leaping, he had pulled the grenade's pin and mistakenly tossed it back into the plane. Clutching the live grenade to his chest, he blissfully sailed back to earth. Well, almost back, that is.