Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let's Play "Spot the Common Thread"

This one's for commenter Dave T. who thinks there's something wrong with me for taking defensive measures to avoid an encounter with a person asking me for change in a gas station parking lot in Oakland in the still-dark early hours of the morning.

His "reasoning" being (if memory serves me correctly - I accidentally deleted his comment while scrolling through them on my Blackberry yesterday) that the guy was simply a homeless person trying to get some food to eat. Apparently, Dave was in that same parking lot Sunday morning, just minutes before I was, and had the opportunity to interview the individual in question to determine his intentions.

The fact that I went into "defensive mode" and got my wife and kids out of the vicinity as safely and as quickly as I could was frightening to him. In his world of unicorns, pixie dust, and cotton candy ponies, muggers are mythical creatures that simply don't exist in real life.

"Everyone's friendly, Lord! Kum-ba-yah!"

How paranoid of me for thinking that nice young man might have been up to no good.

He was probably just out looking for some change for a cup of coffee...

Barnes turned to lock the front glass door. Defendant approached her and asked if she had any spare change.
Bernie Garcia said a young man approached her at a gas station as she was buying fuel for her van and asked for money.
"And I first saw this guy," Tanyeri said. "He asked for change and said this whole story about his girlfriend and his baby leaving him."
The men asked the victim in Spanish for money to buy beer, Orrey said.
He told responding officers that he had gotten off of a bus, and was walking when two young men – who had come from the direction of a grocery store across the street -- approached him. They asked the victim if he had any change.
One of the males asked the victim if he had any money, to which he responded that he did not.
In an April robbery, a tourist was approached by Garrett near Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. Brown said Garrett asked the victim to help a man down on his luck, and the tourist reached into his pocket for his wallet.
The suspect asked the victim for a dollar and later robbed the victim of all of his money.
The victim was approached by three males with the same description as the previous incident. One of the males asked the victim if he had any spare change.
The suspect asked the victim for a dollar and when the victim refused, the suspect punched him in the nose.
The victim was leaving the liquor store at 3rd and Palou when 2 African American males approached him. They first asked the victim for money, then punched him in the face when he didn’t comply.
According to officers, the 12-year-old asked the victim for change and when the man went to pull out his wallet the kid punched him in the face.
A robbery was reported yesterday at 10:40 p.m. at Lankershim and Sherman Way. Two suspects approached the victim in a parking lot. One suspect asked the victim for change.
An attempted robbery and assault was reported Sunday after midnight at Cohasset Street and Orion Avenue in North Hills. Police said the victim was walking when two suspects approached him. One asked the victim for money, and the victim told him he did not have any.
The suspect asked the victim for money and she said she had none. He then displayed a gun and demanded her purse.

...or, maybe a smoke...

According to the victim he was exiting the WaWa after purchasing cigarettes when he was robbed by two Hispanic males. One of the males asked the victim for a cigarette.
A gunman and his accomplice took a 33-year-old man's wallet, credit cards and keys in a robbery March 18 in an apartment complex at 4901 Sunbeam Road. First, the accomplice asked the victim for a lighter.
The suspect allegedly asked the victim “for a light” and then punched the victim in the face with metal or brass knuckles, police said.
The 30-year-old man was waiting for a trolley about 8:20 p.m. when four youths walked up to him. One of the teens asked the victim for a cigarette, then punched him in the face before he could answer, Sgt. Ted Fenn said.

...or, maybe, he simply needed directions...

Three robberies happened in Mesquite parking lots on the east and west sides of the city in a matter of 45 minutes, police said. Investigators said one man would approach the victim in a parking lot and ask for directions, and then the other would run up and rob the person at gunpoint.
As she was unloading her car the emerged from the alley and approached her. Suspect #1 asked the victim "Do you know where Lake St. is?"
According to police, two men pulled up alongside the victim in a gray or primer-colored car that may have been either a Chevrolet Chevelle or Nova. The car's passenger asked the victim for directions, while the driver got out of the car and approached the victim from behind.
The victim was then approached by one of the men in the group who asked him for directions to I-30. The victim gave the man directions after which the suspect asked the victim if he would help him by jump-starting his disabled vehicle.
The suspect vehicle was occupied with three male adults. The driver asked the victim for directions...
The suspect asked the victim for directions to Summerfield Road and then grabbed her purse and drove off, deputies said.

...or, he had to make a phone call....

The two males approached a female who was walking alone. The woman was talking on her phone and did not understand the request when one of the males asked the victim to use her phone.
The victim was walking down 3rd Street when she was surrounded by 4 African American males. One of the suspects asked to use the victim’s cell phone.
Upon an officer’s arrival, a victim stated the man asked the victim to use her cellular phone.

...or, simply wanted to know the time...

The suspect, a five-foot-11-inch male of average build with a thin mustache, close-cut hair and a dark complexion, asked the undergraduate victim for the time.
The suspects approached the victim, asked for the time and proceeded to grab and rob the victim.
The suspect stopped him and asked the victim for the time of day.
At Windham and Amherst the defendants asked the victim for the time, then attacked her and tried to take her purse.
Also in the vehicle was the man’s eight-year-old daughter. The suspect approached and asked the victim for the time.

...or needed change for a twenty.

One victim, Hector Mendoza, testified he was walking out of a grocery store on Feb. 10, 2004, when Garrett drove up in a vehicle and asked him whether he had change for a large bill.
When they were preparing to pick up for the day two subjects arrived in a dark green Ford Explorer. The female a Hispanic in her thirties asked the victim if she could break a one hundred dollar bill so she could make a purchase.

So, hey, if you want to invite everyone asking you for any of the above into your home for some milk and cookies, and to spend some quality time with your wife and kids, knock yourself out.

You play Mother Teresa.

I'm gonna get the hell out of Dodge, thanks.

And, for what it's worth, had this situation played out at the gas station up the street from me, and I was carrying a handgun, I'd have done the exact same thing. Like I said earlier, the odds are he was harmless. I'm not willing to risk losing that bet, though.