Alibi V.14 No.12 • March 24-30, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Bosnia—An ineffectual but determined Bosnian thief identified only as Fehim was recently arrested three times in one day for three different crimes. According to the Oslobodjenje daily, the 44-year-old man was first caught breaking into a car and taken to a police station in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza. He was released after giving a statement but returned a few hours later after causing a traffic accident with another stolen vehicle. Once again, he was released. Following two more failed car thefts, Fehim decided to try his luck at residential burglary. He was caught breaking into an apartment. This time, he was detained pending trial.

Dateline: England—Last Wednesday, Robert Downey (not that Robert Downey) was sentenced to nearly seven years in jail for his fruity robbery scheme by Southwark Crown Court in London. Downey, an admitted drug addict, said he hatched the scheme to buy more crack. Donning a mask, Downey headed for his local bookmaker's shop, pausing briefly to purchase a banana from a grocery store. Once inside the shop, he pointed the fruit wrapped in a plastic bag and screamed, “I want the money or I will [expletive] shoot you!” Unfortunately for Mr. Downey, his performance did not produce the desired effect. Assistant Peter Humphrey calmly turned to a colleague and said, “He said he has a gun, but it might be a banana.” Downey then produced a pair of scissors, “but seeing no money was going to be handed over he ran out of the shop,” said prosecutor Patrick Cahill. When police arrived, they found the 24-year-old nearby struggling to remove his too-tight ski mask. A police dog found the badly bruised banana still in its bag nearby. Downey pleaded guilty to one count of attempted robbery. He also admitted possessing an imitation firearm. Downey's lawyer, Rajiv Menon, who called the robbery attempt “farcical and incompetent,” wasn't pleased with his client's harsh sentence. “We have to face facts. It was a banana, not even a plastic gun, or something that even looked like a gun. Not only that, but neither of the bookies was scared.”

Dateline: Massachusetts—They say the early bird catches the worm, but it's not always true. Police arrived at a CVS pharmacy in Quincy early last Tuesday morning to find 42-year-old Steven Jakaitis sleeping in his idling car with a nylon stocking over his head and a cap pistol in his pocket. By his side was a note that read: “I have a Gun DO NOT Press any Alarms or let Custermors (sic) know Empty the All the register.” A customer had called police after seeing Jakaitis, who was also wearing a black wig and a scarf. On the back seat, officers found a plastic bag containing 36 unused hypodermic needles. It seems Jakaitis may have fallen asleep waiting for the store to open. He never made it inside. At his arraignment on Tuesday, Jakaitis pleaded innocent to attempted armed robbery, possession of a hypodermic syringe and receiving a stolen car. He was ordered held on $1,000 bond and is awaiting trial.

Dateline: Pennsylvania—A convenience store clerk in Cranberry foiled an armed robbery last Tuesday night by laughing the thief out of the store. The incident began at Gordon's Mini Market at 9:45 p.m. shortly before closing time. A man wearing a Pluto mask and brandishing what looked like a black semiautomatic weapon, burst into the store and demanded money from the register. Instead of doing what he was told, the clerk started laughing at the gun-wielding Pluto. “He didn't comply with the request and the frustrated Pluto robber then left the store,” said police Sgt. Dave Kovach. Kovach made it clear to reporters that the clerk's response, while understandable, is not recommended. “I don't want to give the impression that that's an advisable thing to do,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Pluto could have been a strung-out heroin addict. You never know.”

Dateline: Virginia—Roger Ashley, police chief of Middleton was ordered held without bail last Saturday on charges of driving drunk twice in one day. Ashley was arrested the first time after his unmarked police car ran into another vehicle on rural Route 11. Robinson was arrested a short time later driving drunk in his own personal vehicle. Robinson's status as police chief of Middleton is under review by town leaders.

Dateline: South Carolina—Marijuana stamps are a success in South Carolina, but not quite in the way legislators were hoping. A decade ago, the state enacted a law requiring pot dealers to buy tax stamps, similar to the ones on cigarettes. No one thought they would, but the law enables authorities to prosecute drug dealers as tax cheats. Nowadays, however, the $3.50 tax stamp--featuring a pot leaf and the image of the state with a circle and a red stripe through it--has become popular among collectors. More expensive stamps are available for other illegal drugs, but state officials say none of those has been sold.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.