12. Stories for Reading:
Crimes and Criminals
Read, translate and retell the stories.
1.1. Klaus Schmidt, 41, burst into a bank in
Berlin, Germany, waved a pistol and screamed: "Hand over the money!"
The staff asked if he wanted a bag to which he replied: "Damn right, it's
a real gun!" Guessing Schmidt was deaf, the manager set off the alarm saying
later: "It was ridiculously loud, but he didn't seem to notice".
After five minutes, punctuated by Schmidt's occasionally shouting: "I am a
trained killer!" the police arrived and arrested him. Schmidt then sued
the bank accusing them of exploiting his disability.
1.2. Five armed raiders burst into a bank in Baku,
the capital of Azerbaijan. Their demands for money were foiled when the staff
calmly opened up the safes to reveal rows of empty shelves. Unfortunately,
robbers were let down by their ignorance of the republic's finances. No money
had been delivered to any of the banks in Baku for the previous two months.
1.3. John Nashid from New York held up a bank in
Bronx and got away with $17,000. He then led the police on a five-mile car
chase through back streets, throwing fistfuls of dollars out of the window in
an attempt to hold up pursuit To a certain extent it may have worked, as $6,300
of his haul wasn't recovered; but it also left a trail for the 12 cop cars
chasing him to follow. Eventually Nashid ran from his car, dived through the
window of a nearby nursing home, and was finally captured near a garbage can at
the rear of the building. He had entered the bank draped in a sheetwith holes
cut out for his eyes, and was immediately nicknamed "Casper the
Ghost" by police.
1.4. Scottish bank robber Derek Macfadden was
caught because he was too law-abiding. Gun in hand, he held up a bank at
Giffnock, near Glasgow, and then raced off in his getaway car with Ј4,000.
Despite being pursued by police, he halted at a red traffic light, where he was
1.5. A man arrived at a bank in East Hartford,
Connecticut. He was wearing a blue bandanna across his face and brandishing a
pistol as he yanked at the door, only to find it was locked. The bank had
actually closed at 3:00. After staring at the door for a few seconds, the man
ran off into a small black car. Staff still inside the bank called the police,
but no arrest was made.
Perhaps even later in arriving
was the gang who spent the night cutting their way into a Lloyds bank in
Hampshire, England. They cut bars with a hydraulic saw, wrenched out a security
grille, and punched a hole through a wall. The only problem was that the bank
was closed down four years earlier, and the building was empty.
1.6. From Florence, Italy, a tale is in which the
guards got it wrong: security men were all too eager to help a man with his
foot in a cast as he hobbled into a bank on metal crutches. Ignoring the alarm
from the metal detector at the bank's entrance, they guided the apparently
disabled man to a cashiers register. There he dropped his crutches, pulled a
gun and grabbed $40,000 before sprinting away.
1.7. Michael Norton stole two security cameras
from the lobby of a bank. The cops were sure it was Norton, one of the
neigbourghood characters, because the last pictures the cameras took showed him
unscrewing them from the wall mountings Detective Thomas Hickey set off to
cruise the streets and evenioally found Norton. "Hey", called Hickey.
"Could you explain to me how comes the bank has your picture?"
"I didn't rob the bank", Norton protested. "I just took the
2.1 . After he had been robbed of $20 in
Winnipeg, Canada, Rogir Morse asked for his wallet back. The mugger agreed,
handed over his own wallet by mistake, and fled- leaving Roger $250 better off.
2.2. Camden, New Jersey, Clarence Gland and Kin
Williams were taking a late-night stroll when a car pulled up and two men got
out. One of them produced a long black snake and shoved it toward Gland's face,
and while the couple stood rigid, his associate made off with cash, a personal
stereo and a wristwatch. A snake expert later identified the reptile from its
description as acompletely harmless rat snake . In other words, it was not
2.3. A gun-toting mugger made a bad mistake when
he held up a man who was walking home through an alley in West Virginia.
Finding his victim was carrying only $13, he demanded a check for $300. The man
wrote out the check, and the thief was caught the next day when he tried to
cash it. As the cops said afterward: "The crook wasn't very bright".
2.4. An Italian who turned to snatching handbags to
finance his drug addiction came unstuck, when he robbed his own mother by
mistake. The woman was walking along the street when her son, who didn't see
her face until it was too late, spend past on a motorcycle and snatched her
bag. Recognising him, his mother was so angry she reported him to the police.
2.5. Belgian police quickly solved two Brussels
street robberies when they heard the victims' description of the culprit: he
was wearing a bright-yellow jacket and had a cast on one leg. The man was
caught within 15 minutes of his second robbery.
2.6. Purse snatcher Daniel Pauchin ended up in the
hospital, when he tried to rob two women in a street in Nice, France. The
victims were burly transvestites who beat him up and left him with broken ribs.
2.7. Mandy Hammond from Arnold, England, went out
with two friends. As they waited for a taxi, a man walked up to them and
demanded Mandy's lipstick and eyeshadow. The group thought he was joking, but
he then pulled a gun, held it to her friend Paul Upton's head and announced,
"Don't laugh. I've got a gun, and I'll shoot if you haven't got any
lipstick" . Lipstick was promptly produced, and the man strolled off. In
the same month a gunman struck in Scarborough, England. Wearing a hood and dark
glasses, he forced a pharmacist assistant, at gunpoint, to fill a bag with
pimple cream. Police were said to be "puzzled".
3.1. Edward Williams of Houston, Texas, was fined
$10,000 and put on 10 years' probation. He had formerly been a storeroom
supervisor at Houston's Jefferson Davis Hospital, and he had been convicted of
stealing 79,680 rolls of toilet paper. No one knew for sure what he'd done with
the purloined paper.
3.2. Car thief in Holloway, north of London, got
away with something special. Tucked away in the trunk of his car was a box
containing 120 plastic earholes. They were plastic molds made for the Royal
National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, to allow hearing aids to be tailor-made
for patients. One can only imagine the thief trying to sell them on the open
market: "Ere, buddy — wanna buy some plastic ear'oles?"
3.3. The day after winning $640,000 in Italy's
national lottery, Flavio Maestrini was arrested for stealing $400 from a shop.
Appearing in court, he explained that he didn't enjoy spending money unless it
3.4. A Russian man arrived at his country retreat
near Arkhangelsk, Russia, on the White Sea and found the entire house stolen,
complete with outhouses and fences, leaving just a vegetable patch.
3.5. Members of a British Rail cricket team turned
up for the first match of the season at their field near Kidderminster,
England. The pavilion had disappeared. How one steals an eight-room building
without anyone noticing remains a mystery.
3.6. Alan Omonde appeared in court in Uganda on
the charge of stealing an old man's big edible rat. Omonde was given 12 strokes
of the cane for stealing John Onyait's smoked rat, while Onyait lamented that
he'd been deprived of his favourite dish. Omonde was also ordered to hunt down
and trap five more edible rats as a fine payable to his elderly victim.
4. ESCAPE ARTISTS
4.1. Two prisoners tried to escape from an
appearance at a court in Watford, England. Forgetting that they were handcuffed
together, they ran on either side of a lamppost. Having hurtled into one
another, the stunned pair was grabbed by the guard and bundled into a waiting
4.2. Relatives bribed a prison guard to smuggle a
bunch of bananas to an inmate at Pecs, Hungary. Unfortunately the guard ran
into the prison commander, and apparently unaware that there might be anything
wrong with them, offered him his choice of the fruit. Needless to say, the
commander chose the wrong banana, bit into the metal file contained within, and
had the guard up on charges.
4.3. A certain Mr. Jorgen appeared on a Danish TV
quiz show and easily outclassed his opponents. He was just about to take off
with nearly $700 and a vacation for two in Marbella, Spain, when the producer
took him aside: it seemed security wanted a word. Jorgen had been on the run
for the previous 18 months, and his TV-addict prison officer had recognised
4.4. Double murderer David Graham was only too
obliging when prison officers in Florida asked him to try to escape, so they
could test a new tracking dog. They even gave him a 30-minute start. Graham did
his part perfectly, but the dog didn't. Local police were called into join the
search, but Graham was long gone. A much better sniffer dog was employed at a
jail in Mexico City, Mexico. It found Barren Brown hiding in a laundry van —
which probably saved Brown a great deal of disappointment, as the laundry van's
immediate destination was another prison.
4.5. Three imprisoned robbers broke out of a new
jail in Aixen-Provence, France by climbing ladders left behind by workmen. The
workers had been erecting wires intended to deter helicopter-aided escapes from
the prison yard, but in preventing the high-tech breakouts, they seem to have
forgotten all about the low-tech ones.
4.6. An unnamed man reportedly climbed the wall of
Chelmsford jail, in Essex, England, from the outside. He was carrying a rope
with which he intended to haul his brother out. The fellow lost his balance,
fell into the jail, and was arrested as he staggered around the prison yard,
dazed but unhurt.
5.1. Steven Kemble was
arrested in St. George, Utah, when he tried to flee after shoplifting a CD.
After being briefly detained by a store clerk, he broke free, dashed out the
door, and rain into a pillar in front of the shop, knocking himself unconscious.
5.2 . Roy Philips Downfall was a colour
fellow . Appearing in court on shoplifting charges, he wore a yellow parka,
yellow shirt, yellow pants, and a yellow tie. It was a similar dress that drew
him to the attention of the store detective at a supermarket in Oldham,
England, where everything he was after had a yellow connection: jellies,
mustard, cheese, three pairs of socks, and two pairs of underpants. He was
given a one-month suspended sentence.
5.3. In Johannesburg, South Africa, a
shoplifter with a passion for cheese was caught for the sixth time after
stealing gouda and cheddar. Cleopas Ntima told police he paid for his other
groceries, but said "voices" told him to take the cheese.
6.1. Mr. Wazir Jiwi was the
only clerk in a late night shop in Houston, Texas, when he found himself
looking at two pistols. "You don't need two", he told the bandit.
"Why don't you sell me one of them?" The gunman named his price at
$100; Jiwi handed over the cash and was given the gun. As he placed it under
the counter, he pushed the button that locked the shop door. They then agreed
on the price for the other gun. The outlaw grabbed the second bundle of cash,
put his other pistol on the counter and tried to leave. When he found he could
not get out, Jiwi told him to bring the money back and he would let him go. And
he did let him go, presumably guessing that anyone that stupid would get
arrested soon enough anyway.
6.2. An armed man in Groiningen, northern Holland,
handed a shopkeeper a note demanding money. The man behind the counter took one
look and then wrote his own terse reply: "Bug off"' (or the nearest
Dutch equivalent). And the gunman did too fleeing empty-handed.
6.3. When John Gregory came to trial, the tale
that came out was one ofthigh farce rather than high drama. Gregory and an
accomplice had attempted to rob a videos-shop in Feltham, England, but
unfortunately they were so dense, they thought the shop's type-writer was, the
cash register and ordered the manager, at gunpoint, to open it up. Even after
they'd spotted their mistake, they still managed to grab only five pounds
before; their shotgun went off accidentally which scared them so much they
fled, dropping the cash in the shop's doorway. The net return for the robbery
was no money and 4 years' youth custody.
6.4. A robber armed with a sausage raided a shop
in Graz, Austria, and escaped with 1,600 shillings. Storekeeper Rudy
Buckmeister was hit over the head with the ten-pound sausage. "It felt
like a baseball bat", he said.
In 1981 Marianne Bachmeir, from Lubeck, West
Germany, was in court watching the trial of Klaus Grabowski, who had murdered
her 7 year-old daughter. Grabowski had a history of attacking children. During
the trial, Frau Bachmeir pulled a Beretta 22 pistol from her handbag and fired
eights bullets, six of which hit Grabowski, killing him. The defence said she
had bought the pistol with the intention of committing suicide, but when she
saw Grabowski in court she drew the pistol and pulled the trigger. She was
found not guilty of murder, but was given six years imprisonment for
manslaughter. West German newspapers reflected the opinion of millions of
Germans that; she should have been freed, calling her "the avenging
8. CRIME OF PASSION
Bernard Lewis, a
thirty-six-old man, while preparing dinner became involved in an argument with
his drunken wife. In a fit of a rage Lewis, using the kitchen knife with which
he had been preparing the meal, stabbed and killed his wife. He immediately
called for assistance and readily confessed when the first patrolman appeared
on the scene with the ambulance attendant. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
The probation departments investigation indicated that Lewis was a rigid
individual who never drank, worked regularly, and had no previous criminal
record. His thirty-yeat-old deceased wife, and mother of three children, was a
"fine girl" when sober, but was frequently drunk and on a number of
occasions when intoxicated, had left their small children unattended. After due
consideration of the background of the offence and especially of the plight of
the three motherless youngsters, the judge placed Lewis oh probation so that he
could work, support and take care of the children. On probation Lewis adjusted
well, worked regularly, appeared to be devoted to the children, and a few years
later was discharged as "improved" from probation.
In 1952 two youths in
Mitcham, London, decided to rob a dairy. They were Christopher Craig, aged 16,
and Derek William Bentley, 19. During the robbery they were disturbed by Sydney
Miles, a policeman. Craig produced a gun and killed the policeman. At that time
Britain still had the death penalty for certain types of murder, including
murder during a robbery. Because Craig was under 18, he was sentenced to life
imprisonment. Bently who had never touched the gun, was over 18. He was hanged
in 1953. The case was quoted by opponents of capital punishment, which was
abolished in 1965.
In 1976 a drunk walked into
a supermarket. When the manager asked him to leave, the drunk assaulted him,
knocking out a tooth. A policeman who arrived and tried to stop the fight had
his jaw broken. The drunk was fined 10 pounds.
In June 1980 Lady Isabel
Barnett, a well-known TV personality was convicted of stealing a tin of tuna
fish and a carton of cream, total value 87p, from a small shop. The case was
given enormous publicity. She was fined 75 pounds and had to pay 200 pounds
towards the cost of the case. A few days later she killed herself.
This is an example of a
civil case rather than a criminal one. A man had taken put an insurance policy
of 100,000 pounds on his life. The policy was due to expire at 3 o'clock on a
certain day. The man was in serious financial difficulties, and at 2.30 on the
expire day he consulted
solicitor. He then wen out and called a taxi. He asked the driver to make a
note of the time, 2.50. Then he then shot himself. Suicide used not to cancel
an insurance policy automatically. (It does nowadays.) The company refused to
pay the man's wife, and the courts supported them.
• An eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth.
• Judge not least you be judged.
• Everyone deserves a second chance.
• Justice is nothing unless it is tempered with
your arguments for or against the statements above. Use the active vocabulary
from the Unit. Divide into two groups — pro and con, and conduct a debate.
Appoint the "Chair" of the debate who give the floor to the speakers
of both teams.