Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Guy Who Lit a Cigarette While He Was Allegedly Siphoning Gas from his…

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Aug. 9 2013 3:56 PM

Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Guy Who Lit a Cigarette While He Was Allegedly Siphoning Gas from his Neighbors’ Cars

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Crime is Slate’s crime blog. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @slatecrime.

Name: Vade Arrun Bradley

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Alleged crime: Arson.

Fatal mistake: Choosing the worst possible moment to head to Flavor Country.

The circumstances: August began inauspiciously for Hayward, Calif., man Vade Arrun Bradley. According to the Contra Costa Times, he had recently received an eviction notice, and would probably have to vacate his pad at the Valienzi Manor Apartments. To make matters worse, he apparently didn’t have enough money to fuel up his car so he could pack up his stuff and move out. Bradley appraised the situation and allegedly chose what, at the time, must have seemed like the best course of action: He would siphon the gasoline he needed from his neighbors’ cars.

Siphoning gas is a pretty desperate move, but it isn’t inherently stupid. No, the stupidity came into play when, in the middle of siphoning, Bradley allegedly decided to take a smoke break. What’s more flammable than cigarettes? That’s right: fuel vapors! When the fire department showed up minutes later, the entire carport was on fire, and approximately $200,000 worth of damage had been done to Bradley’s neighbors’ now-incinerated cars. Though the fire was an accident, he was nevertheless arrested for arson, and the Contra Costa Times reports that, when he was arrested, he had a black eye because one of his enraged neighbors had punched him in the face. After reading about his stupidity, I want to punch him in the face.

How he could have been a lot smarter: Don’t smoke around gasoline. There are plenty of other non-flammable products if you absolutely have to get your fix: dip, snuff, nicotine gum. You could even use one of those electronic cigarettes, if you’re so inclined.

How he could have been a little smarter: Four out of five gas-siphoning experts agree: Never siphon your own gas. You should always pay a hobo or a local child to do it for you. That way you avoid the risk of fire and you make a new friend!

How he could have been a little dumber: I guess he could have tried to siphon gas from a moving car.

How he could have been a lot dumber: He could have siphoned propane.

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): Smoking a cigarette while you’re siphoning gasoline might not be as stupid as robbing a gun shop with a baseball bat, but it’s close. Actually, it is as dumb as robbing a gun shop with a baseball bat. Maybe even dumber. We’re on a hell of a roll with these last few entries! 10 out of 10 for Vade Arrun Bradley.

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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.