MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - One thing is for certain about what happened when two men used a stolen
machine earlier this month. Investigators will tell you this was a combination of both boldness and stupidity, though well-planned.
"They stole the forklift from a construction site just down the street. These weren't amateurs" said Capt. Huey Thornton.
"Crooks are not usually bright," said Ralph Ioimo, Associate Professor of Justice and Public Safety at Auburn University in Montgomery.
Ioimo started his career in law enforcement, rising to Chief Deputy in Simi Valley, California. Now he teaches Justice and Public Safety at AUM. Ioimo says it's hard to pin down with any accuracy whether economic recessions do, in fact, cause property crimes to go up.
"If you look at past history, you don't really see a sharp increase in property crimes," said Ioimo.
A case in point. The police chief in Los Angeles was quoted in a recent New York Times article as saying there's 'no appreciable rise in crime' despite a struggling economy, but that's not the case elsewhere. It's a different story in Providence, Rhode Island, according to that same article. Still, another sign the recession may or may not play a role, at least in Montgomery.
"Last time we had something like this it was a very specialized torch in order to break into that ATM machine," said Thornton.
And that crime occurred when the economy was good. It's an on-going debate whether recessions contribute to a rise in property crimes, but there is no argument about what happened at the Montgomery bank's ATM machine; the eye of the camera capturing a desperate attempt to get some quick, hard cash.
"I wouldn't say it ranks in the top 5 in terms of dumb criminal mistakes but definitely top 20," said Ioimo.