By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
Somewhere recently I read or heard the phrase, “It is the ignorant that keep us employed.” I laughed and then began to think about it. There really is a lot of truth contained in that thought.
I will grant you police work encompasses so much more than dealing with the “rocket scientists” of the world. But they really prove the old saying, “It was a battle of wits and he came unarmed.”
Every officer has a collection of “dumb crook” stories. They even have their own TV show. We have all heard the tales of the bank robber writing the holdup note on the back of his parole papers or holding up a store where he is known. In Wilshire, we had a holdup man take down Sears, run out the front door, past the police station next door, and into the middle of change of watch.
“I didn’t know it was a police station. I thought it was an armory,” he said. With a parking lot full of black and white cars?
But these people do supply us with an endless supply of stories and are an important outlet. Comic relief so to speak.
Here then, are several additions.
“The Predictable Bandit”
Working Metro, my partner Frank and I were directed to report to Robbery Division along with another team. They had a limited stakeout and needed two teams. The detective doing the briefing related the following:
A lone bandit had been hitting cabs and without provocation pistol whipping the drivers and, in several cases, causing serious injury. He had been working about once a week and had hit five times so far. He usually picked up the cab at or near the bus depot downtown and took them to one of two locations (you have to be kidding) either 32nd and Halldale (three times) or 27th and Denker twice.
The detective concluded, “You know what to do and how to do it. Keep in mind he is armed with a revolver and is one vicious S.O.B. Decide between yourselves who goes where. Be careful and good luck.”
We flipped, I won. He had done Halldale three times so is due at Denker. We took Denker.
It was a perfect spot to sit—a good spot to hide the car and plenty of cover. We wanted him out of the car and before he hit the driver. We went over our signals and settled in to wait. We were like two kids awaiting Christmas morning. The anticipation was almost unbearable. It was every coppers’ dream. We had just been given a 50/50 chance of being handed an armed bandit. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Not thirty minutes later the radio tells us they got him at Halldale. Oh, so close, but no cigar, but that’s the way it goes; either chicken or feathers, but that one really hurt…
“The Somnambulant Burglar”
It was Metro custom to discuss successful assignments at the next roll call. We worked this one and had to listen to another team tell it.
We were staking out for a cat burglar who came in through the business sky lights. I believe it was in the downtown jewelry district.
He’d lower a rope ladder or knotted rope and was assumed to be very athletic. The toughest task was sitting in the dark and staying awake.
Anyway, the lucky team heard the skylight being opened. Down comes the rope followed by Mr. Burglar. As he stepped off the rope the officers turned the lights on.
Without missing a beat, he asked, “What time is it?”
They said he was so casual about the question they almost looked at their watches. He then claimed he was sleepwalking and used the same defense in court. No go.
Again, I defy anyone to tell me of any other job where you can meet the class of people we do and have nearly as much fun.