Jessie Raymond: Creative criminals liven up the news

The Addison Independenthas won awards for its local news coverage, striking photos and special sections.

Whatever.

Readers who want the most compelling combination of information and entertainment in this paper know where the real action lies: in the police logs. (Admit it: You go there.)

Granted, most of the entries about the previous week’s crimes are actually pretty dull. It’s the gems tucked in between the routine traffic stops and loud parties that make for good reading. Drunk driving charges, for instance, are sprinkled through the logs like dandruff. Ho hum. But when a person gets charged with two DUIs in a four-hour span, well, boy howdy, now we’ve got something to talk about.

You don’t need to be a criminal to contribute creatively to the log. My husband and I, for example, were once in there for failing to make our peacock obey traffic laws. Maybe an exotic bird that liked to strut down the yellow line in spite of oncoming cars wasn’t worthy of an episode of “Cops,” but it added some zing to that week’s otherwise mundane list of incidents.

Readers delight in those spots of color amid the usual laundry list of misdeeds. So, drawing inspiration from some of the more thought-provoking — and genuine — crime log entries in past issues of the paper, I’ve come up with a few tips on how anyone can make their next brush with the law more memorable for readers.

1.      Get stupid drunk. This is almost essential for getting into the crime log, because good judgment decreases as blood alcohol content increases. But this doesn’t mean you should drink and drive. It’s dangerous — and so hackneyed.

If you feel you must get behind the wheel, at least show some imagination. Maybe stop for a red light and decide to sleep off the booze right in the middle of the intersection, engine running. It makes readers wonder: Was your foot still on the brake? How long did you sit there before someone noticed? Isn’t idling bad for the environment?

It’s a conversation starter.

2.      Steal stuff. But do it with pizazz. For example, shoplift clothes, and then wear them the next day into the store you took them from. Brilliant.

Also, if you choose to swipe somebody’s cell phone, don’t turn off the ringer. Readers will spit out their coffee at the image of a police officer dialing the phone while you insist you don’t have it, until your pants start ringing.

3.      Be impulsive. Before you break into a camp late at night, for instance, don’t check to see if anyone is home. Chances are there won’t be an off-duty police officer with martial arts skills sleeping inside, but if there is, the write-up of what ensues will end up clipped out and stuck to refrigerators all over the county. You’ll be famous.

4.      Shoot yourself in the foot. I don’t mean this literally — although it would no doubt run as the lead item in the log. I mean that if there is a warrant out for your arrest or you are currently on probation, don’t lie low. The best way to make a splash in the police log is to draw as much attention to yourself as possible. If you failed to show up for a court appearance a while back, for example, don’t let that stop you from calling the cops because some guy won’t pay you the $50 he owes you. Especially if the money is for drugs.

Or, if your license is suspended and your car is uninsured and unregistered and has a hole in the muffler, definitely drive more than double the speed limit through downtown. And then, if the police should pull you over, jump out of the car and flee on foot. Even though the odds are that you will get caught and incur hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars in fines and maybe even get jail time, you will have shown the police — and eager police log readers — how awesome you are. Plus, people love to read an entry that runs more than one paragraph.

I want to emphasize that I’m not encouraging anyone to commit a crime. Crime is bad. I’m just saying if you’re going to cross the line — and almost everyone does at some time or another, even if they don’t own a peacock — show a little style. You might be loser in the eyes of the law, but your exploits will bring a smile to the faces of thousands ofAddy Indyreaders. Isn’t that worth it?

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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