Opinion: Cell phone robbers

POSTED: 06/21/12 1:04 PM

What is it with youngsters these days that even cell phones are not safe anymore? Up to a point, one could understand that desperate people go out stealing to feed their families or to feed certain habits most people would consider bad.

But stealing a cell phone? Robbing somebody of a phone? Okay, there are cell phones and cell phones; that is: some of these gadgets are smarter than others, but at the end of the day they remain what they are.

The youngster who stood trial yesterday for his role in an attempted cell phone robbery may have understood that doing this kind of stuff is not a good idea. But in case he did not understand it completely, we’d like to offer some clarification.

The youngster may be boasting to his friends right now that he is not even going to jail for what he did. After all, the court handed down a suspended 9 month prison sentence. Oh yeah, he has to do 150 hours of community service. If he does not do this, he will run the risk of being sent to prison after all. But all those things will happen in a distant future, so they may not be of a great concern to this young man.

Proud he should be too, that he attempted to rob a 14-year-old boy of his cell phone. His company was an established bad boy from the Sucker Garden community.

Sometimes it is almost too easy to predict what will happen next. But in this case, we’d like to offer this young man a glimpse of his future if he does not do his community service and if he does not clean up his act and if he does not stay away from the bad influence some people currently have on him.

There was a clear lesson of offer later during the court session when a man who had been involved in another foiled robbery stood trial. This time the attempted robbery (qualified as attempted extortion for technical legal reasons) targeted a tourist couple.

The defendant and a co-perpetrator who was not in court yesterday loitered for three quarters of an hour on the parking lot at the Belair Beach Hotel, waiting for a suitable victim. The defendant told the police after his arrest that he was broke and that this was the reason he came up with the robbery idea.

These criminals were even worse than the boys who attempted to steal that phone in Sucker Garden. Even though they had something that looked like a gun to threaten their victims (in court it appeared that this could have been a water pistol they had painted black) they did not manage to force them to hand over the keys of their car and their wallets. Instead, the woman of the couple started screaming at the top of her voice. It is easy to imagine that this was her maternal instinct taking over, given the fact that the couple’s 2-year-old child was also in the car.

Those screams were enough for the amateur robbers to flee the scene. But in the end, at least one of them did not escape justice: the court sentenced him to 30 months imprisonment (of which 10 months are suspended) and 3 years of probation.

Keep in mind that the probation clock starts ticking after the prison sentence has been served. So in the most optimistic scenario this would be extortionist will be an entirely free man again around the summer of 2016.

Of course, if he commits other crimes after his release during the probation time, justice is waiting for him to execute the remaining ten months of prison time on top of the sentence he will receive for his new crime.

Freedom lovers will agree that there are plenty of reasons to acquire skills that make one marketable in the job market, to work for one’s money, and to stay out of trouble. That seems however to be a tough sell to youngsters who are blinded by an impulse desire to possess somebody else’s cell phone.

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