Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Pimply Guy Who Stole a Bunch of Bus Transfers

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
March 14 2013 12:37 PM

Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Pimply Guy Who Stole a Bunch of Bus Transfers

City Bus
A public transportation rider hustles to his bus at a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus transit station October 21, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois.

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

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Name: Unidentified pimply Canadian

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Crime: Stealing a bunch of bus transfers.

Fatal mistake: Choosing an extraordinarily non-lucrative crime.

The circumstances: Let’s be honest: public buses are the worst. They’re full of crazy people, they’re never on time, and they’re the dirtiest, most depressing mode of public transit in existence. Nothing against buses, but, well, I sort of have everything against buses. But you know who doesn’t have anything against buses? This sad, sad man from Edmonton, Alberta. (Hat tip to the Edmonton Journal’s Jana G. Pruden.)

On Tuesday, this fellow tried to bully his way aboard a city bus without paying his fare. The bus driver was having none of it, and the guy—described heartbreakingly in the police bulletin as someone who “has a lot of acne”—got riled. At 5-foot-9, he wasn’t big enough to force his way past the driver, so instead he did the next best thing: grabbed a handful of bus transfers and ran.

Bus transfers are a terrible thing to steal. They have no cash value. They expire in 90 minutes. They can’t be pawned or fenced. To get any use from them whatsoever, you actually have to ride the bus, which seems less like a reward than some creative court-ordered punishment.

The police bulletin didn’t say how or if this incident was resolved, but I see three possible outcomes. Either a) this guy just really needed to get home, and he used one of those transfers to do so, b) he spent the next hour and a half hopping from bus to bus in a gleeful transit orgy, or c) he soon realized the futility of his actions, and sat down on the curb to cry. My money’s on that last one.

How he could have been a lot smarter: He could have paid full fare. Dude, buses are cheap! In Edmonton, a single fare costs $3.20—which, I admit, is more than I expected. But that’s still not that much money.

How he could have been a little smarter: He could have stolen something of greater value—by which I mean “of any value at all”—like the bus driver’s cap, or a stick of gum, or some dirt from the side of the road.

How he could have been a little dumber: “Gimme those bus transfers, you stupid bus driver!” [brief pause] “Hello, I would like to redeem a bus transfer.”

How he could have been a lot dumber: “Listen up, all you bus patrons, this is a holdup. I want you to pass forward all your transfers.”

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): Tough call. While most of the criminals I feature here are unintelligent-dumb, this guy was more just pathetic-dumb, his crime only notable because the stakes were so low. On the one hand, you have to give him credit for actually getting away with the theft. On the other hand, is that actually something to be proud of? No. No, it is not. 3 out of 10 for the pimply would-be bus rider.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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