This year’s best ‘dumb criminal’ tales so far (The Funny Side)

August 17th, 2012 - 12:10 pm ICT by IANS  

A thief was captured by a cop dressed as a giant banana. (This is the sort of story that columnists like me pray for nightly, so THANK YOU, GOD.) A part-time police volunteer named Luke Summerhayes was doing his day job, working at a supermarket in the UK. As part of his promotional duties, he was dressed as a giant banana. (I’ve worked at supermarkets, and believe me, this is not the worst thing you have to do.)

Suddenly the shoplifting alarm went off! Luke did not have time to take off his costume. He just raced after the thief as he was, flying across the shop in his two-metre-tall banana rig. The villain was proceeding at a steady pace across the car park when a giant banana raced out of nowhere and arrested him. Luke told reporters afterwards: “He looked pretty surprised.” (This line may put him in the running for “Understatement of the Year”.)

The story, recorded in the UK’s tabloid press, was forwarded to me by reader Sunita Chau, who said: “Observers must have been in ‘peels’ of laughter, ha ha ha.”

Groanworthy puns aside, I can see this as the beginning of a real-life superhero saga. But first, Luke needs some banana-powers. Perhaps he could have some sort of banana-skin firing gun that makes criminals slip and fall. And a trusty assistant called plantain. The TV series could be called Go Bananas.


Talking of crime, robbery victims are increasingly defeating villains by simply ignoring them, according to the latest items sent in for my Dumb Criminals File. In one case, a would-be robber walked into a US bank and demanded cash. The teller said: “Sorry, this window is closed.” The robber apologetically moved away to a teller window which was actively serving customers. The second teller pointed out that there was a queue, telling him he had to “wait in line” to rob the bank. In the queue, a customer scolded the man for not lowering the hood of his hoodie indoors. Feeling disrespected, the harassed villain gave up and left the bank in the US city of Boston, the Boston Globe reported.

These things happen in Asia, too. I recall a man storming into a bank in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district to announce he was robbing it. In a typical Hong Kong reaction, staff explained that they were far too busy to be robbed and ignored him. When police arrived, he complained to them about the poor service.

In Holland earlier this year, a masked man entered a bar and leveled a gun at people inside. Too busy drinking and chatting, they ignored him. The whole thing is on YouTube, including the deflated robber’s sad exit.

Moral of these tales: You need PERSONALITY to be a robber. It’s not for everyone.


On a different topic, a reader asked me what I thought of Indian politician Ghamalu Chaudhary, who canvasses for votes while sitting on the back of a bull. I think it’s a brilliant idea. Every time his rivals accuse him of anything, he can reply: “You know what I think your allegations are a load of?” And the bull can answer the question with a memorable visual display from its rear end.


Seafood-eating people in Japan are opposing the campaign to give human rights to dolphins by arguing that “tiny, simple” brains are too small to be classified as fully human. Viewers of “Bigg Boss” should not take this personally.


In business news, police investigating a batch of US Treasury Bonds found in an Italian counterfeiting den said the huge stacks of bills were “entirely worthless”. So, just like the real ones, then.


From summer onwards, perfume counters around the world have been selling a new scent: bottled “Eau de New York Yankees”. And it’s for women. Have you ever been to the men’s locker room at a sports facility? Just roll around in a pig sty, ladies: it’ll be cheaper and you’ll smell better.


This columnist, travelling in Europe over the past couple of weeks, noticed that Asians are significantly shorter than most people from that region. Most embarrassingly, I met quite a few Dutch people (Holland has the world’s tallest population), and found I was the same height as their children.

My pride was rescued a bit by an article I was sent from the UK Daily Mail newspaper. A short woman entered a court in Germany, it said. A man who was in court as a witness burst out laughing and pointed to her, singing: “Hi ho, hi ho,” the dwarves’ song from the movie ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Unfortunately for him, the short person he was mocking was Silke Schoenfliesch-Backofen, one of Germany’s toughest lawyers. As the sniggering guy was on his way out of the courtroom, she hit him with a quickly-hand-drafted summons for insulting a short person. Apparently it’s illegal there! So be nice to short people. We sometimes bite.


Anyway, dedicated to Silke and all other short people, here’s a list of Ten Best Things About Being Short:
1) We can pull our trousers up really fast.
2) We can tell people: “I’m not short, I’m free sample size.”
3) To us, all airline seats have business class leg room.
4) Clothes in the children’s dept are much cheaper.
5) We can stand up in airplanes without hitting our heads.
6) Babies don’t cry when they see us.
7) We can tease tall people: “So, what’s the weather like up there?”
8) When it rains, we’re last to get wet.
9) We can tell jokes like this: “Knock knock. Who’s there? A short person knocking because your doorbell’s too
10) We can skip meetings by saying: “Willy Wonka just texted me to say I have to return to Oompa Loompa land.”


A woman in China gave birth to a giant baby the size and weight of two normal newborns. Will she now be arrested under the one-child policy?


Bumper sticker least likely to be obeyed: “Honk if you’ve never seen a gun fired from a moving vehicle.”


Before I sign off, here’s one more legal story: a US woman whose children were taken from her by social workers demanded US$900 trillion in compensation. (Yes, US$900 trillion, that figure is not a misprint.)

Critics said the fact that Fausat Ogunbayo, 46, thinks time with her children was worth ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD proved that she was mentally unstable. What? No. I think it shows that she’s the only person on the planet whose values are right on target.

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. You can send him ideas and comments via

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