By Mordechai Schmutter
You know what I realized? I write articles about dumb criminals all the time, and we all laugh, but that’s actually judgmental of us. We only know one single news story about them, and they happened to do something ridiculous, so automatically they’re “dumb criminals.” We don’t know anything about them.
OK, so we know that they’re criminals. That doesn’t help their standing. But honestly—you’ve never done anything dumb?
Not dumb enough to make the news.
But I’ve done plenty of dumb things in my life, and I’m sure you’ll agree. That you’ve done dumb things, I mean. And you’ll also agree that many of those were other people’s first impressions of you. Like that time you had an extended conversation with a stranger who was actually talking to the person behind you.
And how many times have you done something dumb when you were tired? You think criminals aren’t tired?
Consider the following true stories.
• In Florida, a man came home one night to find a burglar sleeping on his couch. After momentarily doing that thing where you double check to see if it’s actually your house, he proceeded to call the cops, who carried the intruder off to jail.
• In London, a man was robbing a house, and suddenly, right out of the blue, he decided to take a shower and hop into bed. He was awakened when the occupants got home, and they walked into the room to find him, quote, “frantically trying to pull on the husband’s clothes.”
• In Wisconsin, a man broke into a real estate office, which in general is not the most lucrative idea unless you’re looking to steal photos of other people’s houses. He schlepped three computers outside, left them on the front stoop, and then went back in to look for more things to steal, when he came across a bearskin rug hanging on a wall. Naturally, he took it off the wall, put it on the floor, and fell asleep on it.
• In Oregon, a couple came downstairs one morning to find a man sleeping on their kitchen floor. We’re not even sure how that happens. It’s definitely no bearskin rug. The man was lying in a fetal position, next to a pile consisting of the couple’s belongings, his shoes, and his pants. (The pants were his own.)
• In December, a Texas car burglar fell asleep in one of the cars he was stealing, without actually driving anywhere first. He was awakened by police officers opening the door, at which point he tried to escape by climbing into the back seat.
• In England, two burglars broke into a house while the owners were away. Some neighbors called the police, who arrived to find the burglars in the children’s bedroom, pretending to be asleep. Pretending. What was the plan there?
“Control, we have two burglars here, but they’re asleep. Should we come back tomorrow?”
So my point is that, apparently, burglars are tired. Or crime is boring. You might think it’s exciting, but it mainly involves schlepping furniture in the middle of the night.
And it’s not just about falling asleep. Some criminals manage to stay awake until they’re done, but the nature of their crimes makes it obvious that they need more sleep.
Take the pair of burglars in California who decided to rob the home of a woman named Robin Irvine. They went into her house, made themselves some sandwiches, and they even snuck into her bedroom while she was asleep and tried to steal her watch off her arm.
Now if these guys would have been more awake and done their research or maybe just looked around the house, they might have realized that Robin Irvine is actually an award-winning professional ax-thrower.
Maybe they should have just left the watch.
I personally don’t know that many ax-throwers. There’s not a lot of need for ax-throwing in frum circles, unless you need to chop wood and you don’t want to get up. I don’t know even how you get good at something like that. Have you been practicing since childhood? Surely you have parents who say, “Don’t throw axes. You can put an eye out!”
So at that point the woman screamed, leapt up, grabbed her bedside tomahawks (as opposed to the kitchen tomahawks she uses to make salad), and started running after them. She actually had the self-restraint not to hit them with the axes, and one of the men got away. The other one hid in the bushes near her house. Police found him when they saw his bike sticking out.
Another recent, well-thought-out crime was perpetrated by a man in Newington, CT, who, at 2 a.m., crashed his car through the window of a gas-station convenience store, climbed in, and stole a banana.
Well, he didn’t actually make off with the banana. As police later saw on the surveillance tapes, he ate it in the store. He didn’t even have a mask on, though I guess that made it easier to eat the banana.
Now I don’t know a lot about money, but it doesn’t seem worth it to smash up your car to steal one banana. Well, how many bananas can you eat? And he had to leave. The cops were coming, and bananas don’t travel well.
I guess sometimes you just really need a banana. After all, bananas have health benefits. Like for example, they protect against those cramps you have behind your knee in middle of the night. They also make you smarter and more alert. Maybe he was trying to be awake for another robbery, so he wouldn’t fall asleep on the linoleum. And where else are you going to find a banana at 2 in the morning?
I would not have guessed the gas station.
If he had driven off with the banana, I’d understand. I’d assume he had a monkey at home, and he needs the banana now or the monkey will start throwing things. You don’t know. Maybe he has tomahawks lying around.
Having a pet monkey can be a handful. A little monkey in a fancy coat was spotted wandering around an IKEA in Toronto.
Okay, so everyone wanders around IKEA. That’s how IKEA works. Everyone who goes there gets lost. Why should this monkey be any different?
Apparently, the owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, had left the monkey in the car while she went in to buy chairs, and the monkey got out and wandered into the store. Probably it was hungry. Maybe it should have taken the car into a gas station to get a banana.
When authorities found their way around the IKEA, they took the monkey away from his owner, because anyone who puts clothes on an animal needs to get back out into the world and interact with people. And because bringing a monkey to IKEA is just animal cruelty. Also, because owning a wild animal is illegal. Anyone who doesn’t realize it’s a bad idea to own a monkey hasn’t read the multi-part biography of Curious George. (Curious George is a story about a guy who adopts a monkey that he clearly knows is curious—it’s right there in the name—yet he keeps taking this monkey to strange new places and leaving him unsupervised. Also, the guy dresses like a banana.) But if the owner had read it, she would have known what would happen if she came home and started putting together IKEA furniture with the help of her monkey.
But that news story isn’t about nighttime per se. We just included it here because everything’s better with monkeys.
Our next story comes from the town of Strömstad, in Sweden, where every time they want to write their address on the computer, they have to go up into “insert symbols” and find the silly “O” thing.
Police were called to an apartment at 1:00 a.m. to investigate what neighbors described as “loud banging noises, high-pitched screams, unintelligible yelling, and crying.” When police got there, they found that it was actually a couple attempting to put together IKEA furniture. And, as it turns out, these are the normal, traditional sounds people make when putting together something from IKEA—they bang and yell strange words and cry. Sometimes yelling at the furniture helps.
It’s likely they didn’t even start putting it together at 1:00 a.m. They probably started at 3:00 p.m. But suddenly, it was 1:00 a.m.
And speaking of terrifying noises keeping people awake, our final story today comes from Utah, where a 60-year-old man was having an argument with his wife about whether or not she snores. He said no, she said yes.
Okay, it was the other way around. I know you know. Ninety percent of all married couples have this argument at some point. I don’t know why, though. People always deny that they snore, even though if they did they’d probably be the last person to know. Even if you snore loud enough to wake yourself up, you don’t know that. You just think, ‘I keep waking up!’
And meanwhile, the other party accuses you of snoring like this is something you’re doing on purpose, just to mess with them.
Anyway, at some point, the wife walked off to the basement to take a nap, maybe because all that arguing made her tired. She was pretty tired in the first place, because her husband kept waking her up in middle of the night to claim she was snoring.
But this annoyed the husband because, first of all, she was taking her nap in the basement.
“Now you can sleep in the basement?”
There he is, trying to argue, and she falls asleep, and guess what? She’s snoring!
So he did the only logical thing: He set her clothes on fire.
Not the clothes she was wearing, of course. He went up to the bedroom and set fire to a pile of clothes, according to the article I read, “using a candle he’d lit at the stove.” I picture him carrying the candle across the house, shielding it as he walked, and then having to go back and try again. This guy really needed his wife.
“Wake up! Where do we keep the matches?”
But then the fire got out of control, obviously, and he had to wake her up anyway.
Well, that cured her snoring.
I don’t know what he was trying to prove with this:
“I can’t sleep at night because you snore.”
“No, you can’t sleep at night because you burned down the bedroom.”
This actually happened during the day, but obviously the man was sleep-deprived.
My point is that sleep deprivation can do a lot of things to a lot of people, so you should probably get to bed. But first make sure there’s no one in it. And that it’s not on fire. v
Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.