The Hess Report

Thursday, March 03, 2005

$400 Just Isn't Worth It 

I stopped at the local GetGo (convenience store which is beginning to rival Sheetz! Blasphemy!) on my way to work to purchase a slug of Gatorade. The people behind the counter were chit-chatting about someone who had stolen $400 in a stupid manner. I couldn't tell from the snippet I heard if it was someone they new personally, or someone they had seen on one of the many Judge Hardass shows on TV. In either case, both employees agreed that $400 just wasn't worth it, especially with all the cameras around. I was glad to know that about them, but it made me wonder what their price would be? $1,000? $10,000? At what point would it be worth it?

I did some figuring and decided that for myself, there would be no amount of cash worth it to just straight out steal. The only circumstance under which I think such a thing would be acceptable would be if you were driving in the middle of nowhere and came across the grisly scene of a gang war/drug deal gone bad, in which various bodies are strewn about, drugs and machine guns too, and a big sack of cash is just sitting there amidst the carnage. In that type of situation and that type only would I feel it okay to make off with something that was not mine. Of course, in that sort of scenario, safety might be a relevant issue, too, so take care. Devote a bit of time to thinking about it tonight, though, because you never know when you're going to come across the bullet-riddled bodies of drug dealers and a satchel full of $100's, and when it happens, there will be no time for hesitation.

Of course, this also reminded me of my favorite dumb criminal story that took place in the hills of Cambria County, where hillbilly!Joy and I used to live. A lot of people who live "closer to the Earth", as someone I recently talked to put it, don't trust banks. It's either a long term psychological hangover from the Great Depression, or an irrational fear of the Feds (FDIC? Damned gub'mint!). Whatever the reason, there was this one gentleman who felt the need to avoid banks, but to construct a home-made vault in his own basement. He also kept track of each bill placed in the vault, sorting them into old yellow Penelec envlopes, with the serial number of each contained bill written on the outside of the envelope and then entered into a master registry. Clearly, there was something a little off about the guy, but, free country, you know? The best reckoning is that he had around $150,000 in cash in his basement Ft. Knox.

A couple of local boys got the bright idea that it would be easy to steal, and they were correct. But this is where things get fun. What did they do with the cash? If you're going to steal that much money, in my opinion it is time to relocate to a new state with a new identity. Clearly, $150K isn't enough to make it worth it for most people, but you have to know that if you stick around the hometown, someone's going to notice your sudden cash infusion. Especially if you march right down to the bank the next day and pay off the balance of your truck loan in cash. Which the one did. In marked, serialized, registered cash. It took the police several days to catch up with the two, which also says something about the local fuzz, and shows that no one comes out of this story looking good. They caught them upon their return from a Florida vacation. The thieves had blown all but around $40,000 of the money, and since it wasn't insured (damn the FDIC!) it was just plain gone. However, in their one and only classy move, in addition to paying off their pick-up loan and jetting to Florida, each of the perps had also purchased, with cash, a brand new double wide trailer home. Feel free to laugh at their idiocy, but at least they knew what they wanted out of life.

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