John Grindrod: Criminals, when dumbness comes in spades

By John Grindrod - Guest Columnist

As for my television viewing habits, when I do have time to grab the remote, I will tell you that reality programming occupies the lowest rung on my preference ladder. Sure, for a while, I took a run at Deadliest Catch back when the captain of the Cornelia Marie, the chain-smoking Phil Harris, was still alive and making the brutal elements of the Bering Sea while crab fishing seem somewhat appealing. However, after his passing from cancer, I moved on from the show.

Nonetheless, for a few minutes here and there while channel surfing, I will watch a few minutes of Cops, perfect for inveterate channel changers like me since the show is divided into those convenient five-minute vignettes.

Recently, I caught one of those five-minute segments that perhaps lowers the bar for dumb criminals as much as it can be lowered without touching the ground. The vignette showed an officer in hot pursuit of a speeding car, one that was actually in hot pursuit of another car. Hmm, I thought. What’s going on here? It’s not often that a Congo line ensues during these cops-bad guys car chases.

Well, it turned out that the two police officers in the third car were indeed after the car directly in front of them, not the motorist the middle car was chasing. Once the officers sped ahead and cut off the driver of the car they were chasing and got the driver to stop, the story unfolded.

As the cuffed and shirtless perp in sweatpants (as, I’m guessing eight of every 10 “Cops” perps are) sat on the curb, it became clear what this was all about.

The reason the police were in pursuit of the driver they apprehended is that they’d been called on a cell phone by the driver in the first car after he realized by the tailgating and horn honking that he and his two small children were being chased. The reason the first driver had that cell phone number is because he was an off-duty police officer who knew his two colleagues were working the area on night shift.

Now, why on earth would a shirtless boy be chasing this off-duty officer and his two little ones? Well, the perp explained that he thought the car was his girlfriend’s, and she’d stolen recently a large sum of money from him.

When the officers searched his car, they found some drug paraphernalia as well as an unregistered handgun. One officer sarcastically suggested that perhaps knowing license plates might have been helpful!

Really, it was the dumbest bad boy I’ve seen on that show while channel hopping since I watched a vignette a while back that added a bit of zest to the old car chase-turned foot chase scenario that has played out many times in the ongoing dramas involving the bad guys and the good guys.

In this particular episode, one, I think, from Las Vegas, the bad boy after crashing into a tree and taking off on foot ran down the street and in a last-ditch effort to prolong what most of us take for granted, freedom from captivity, actually tried climbing a light pole. Now, I’m not sure if he was a Vegas native or a bachelor-party runaway, but, if he were indeed just visiting, this just might have been the time to adopt that credo for all embarrassing Vegas behavior, as in, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

In trolling the internet, I found no shortage of sites and tales of dumb criminals. There were the three teens who used an Uber to get to a bank they intended to rob and then discussed their upcoming activity in the car en route. When they went into the bank, the Uber driver called the police, who were there to greet them as they exited.

Then there were other tales of robbers running out of gas while making their getaways (forgetting that it would probably be wise to drive on the top half of the tank when working such a detail) and another of a robber that got stuck in a pizza oven vent while trying to rob the restaurant after hours. His cries for help were heard 11 hours later when workers arrived to work. He was extricated and then arrested for attempted robbery and achieved egregious knuckleheaded-ness.

While Hollywood has often portrayed evildoers as savvy, truth be told, in the real world, the bad guys often aren’t much brighter than a small-appliance bulb.

By John Grindrod

Guest Columnist

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

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