By Mordechai Schmutter

If you’re like me, you might think that you’re safe from crime. My wife grew up out of town (“town” = “reasonable driving distance of New York”), so she makes sure to ask me every night, no less than five times, if I’ve locked the back door. And even though I check, I believe that if I don’t, we still won’t have any break-ins. And you know why? Because we have a security system. Our system is called Nothing We Have Is Worth Stealing Anyway.

You probably feel the same way. You’re not happy with what you have; why would a criminal be happy with it?

But today I’m here to tell you that no one is safe from crime.

“Yeah, but–”

No one is safe.

“Wow, that’s upbeat. Isn’t this supposed to be a humor–”


Popular Argument #1: “Nothing I have is worth stealing.” Yes. But do the criminals know that? Maybe you should put up a sign.

Not that they read signs. One recent summer, a man walked into a store called “The Black Diamond Company,” brandishing an ice pick over his head, and asked the clerks to hand over “all of the money and precious metals.”

“Sir,” they told him, “we don’t have any precious metals. Just regular metals.”

“Yes you do,” he said. “This is The Black Diamond Company, right? Where are all the diamonds?”

“That’s just a name,” they said.

It turns out that Black Diamond doesn’t deal in diamonds at all–they sell skiing and mountain-climbing equipment. You’d think he would have noticed that the entire store was covered in ski poles and harnesses. What did he think they were for? I’ve been to the Diamond District, and they don’t sell tools for finding the diamonds yourselves.

Okay, so maybe the real crime here is false advertising, right? You can’t call your company Black Diamond unless you sell diamonds and your name is Black. Or at least Schwartz. You’ll just confuse people. Although, to be fair, never before or since had anyone else walked in and said, “My anniversary is coming up, and I’m looking for something shiny for my wife.”

“Can we interest you in this? It’s a helmet with a flashlight on the front.”

I do find it ironic, though, that he tried to rob a mountain-gear store with an ice pick. Maybe they saw him come in with it, and they thought he was returning it.

“I’m confused. So you don’t sell diamonds?”

“No, we sell mountain-climbing equipment. See that ice pick in your hand? What does it say on the handle?”

(Reads) “‘Black Diamond.’ Hey! How do you like that?”

The man ended up making off with some more mountain-climbing equipment once he was there, which you might think is not so bad, until you realize that mountain-climbing equipment is also technically burglary equipment. Next thing you know, he’s going to break into, say, the Gold Bond factory.

“Where’s all the gold? And the bonds? And what is that smell?”

So you see that it doesn’t really matter if you know you have nothing to steal. What matters is that the burglars know that.

Popular Argument #2: “Yeah, but I really have nothing for them to steal.” That won’t stop them. They’ll always find something. Last August, a group of about 25 men in São Paulo, Brazil, robbed a slaughterhouse. A slaughterhouse. What is there to steal, right? They ended up making off with 100 tons of meat. And you have to admit, 100 tons of meat is a ton of meat.

Do you have any idea how hot it gets in Brazil in August? Police are on the lookout for a bunch of people inviting everyone they know for an emergency barbecue.

And then there was the man on the Florida Keys who was doing a construction job and needed some sand, so he drove onto an empty beach, scooped a ton of sand into his truck, and just . . . Well, he got stuck. He didn’t account for the weight of the sand or the rising tide. Police found the truck next to the large hole that he had dug, and I guess it’s a good thing that he couldn’t get his car moving, or else he would have driven right into the hole.

My point is that you might think you have nothing to steal, but this guy was stealing sand.

“Wait a minute,” you’re saying. “It’s a crime to steal sand?”

I guess if the authorities just let people drive off with sand, the Keys would vanish overnight. He probably should have just made several thousand trips out with sand in his shoes, like the rest of us.

Popular Argument #3: “But at least they won’t take my car, right? The thing barely starts, and it sounds like a blender.” That’s what I thought. But people will steal all kinds of vehicles. There was a story last January of a 32-year-old man in Pennsylvania who was released from the hospital and needed to pick up his prescription. So he went down to Wal-Mart. (Wal-Mart does everything now.) But he didn’t have any money on him–again, because he just got out of the hospital, and he was for some reason still wearing his hospital gown, which–how can I put this?–doesn’t have any back pockets. Personally, I was always under the impression that you’re supposed to leave the hospital with the clothes you came in.

So he met a friend at the Wal-Mart and asked her to pay for his prescription, and when she took out a ten-dollar-bill, he grabbed it away, grabbed another two $20 bills that she was holding, and ran for it.

If you ask me, it sounds like he needed his prescription more.

The man then ran out of the store, jumped onto one of those motorized scooters that the store keeps for disabled customers, and sped out across the parking lot at speeds approaching two-and-a-half miles per hour, his gown flapping in the wind. The police showed up, and they ended up catching him after an exciting, low-speed chase.

Oh, and did I mention it was January?

Popular Argument #4: “Yeah, but where I live, there is no criminal element at all. Who’s going to rob me?” Well, that’s exactly what people are saying on airplanes these days. Yet a bunch of federal security personnel were called in concerning a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Germany that, as word had it, was being hijacked.

“This is clearly impossible,” you’re saying. Because TSA very clearly checks people to make sure they’re not carrying more than three ounces of shampoo. You have to wear a hospital gown to get through the checkpoints these days.

It turns out that someone in the cockpit had spilled his drink on the communications equipment. You know how they always say, “Don’t drink and drive,” and they’re not specific about what you shouldn’t drink? This is why.

According to an airline spokesman, “during a period of light turbulence, a crew member’s beverage spilled.”

(“Light turbulence” is when the cockpit crew has had too many beverages.)

Okay, so it turns out that the beverage was coffee. But the coffee caused a problem with the radio system so the pilot couldn’t contact the tower, and since everyone’s cell phone had to be turned off, they couldn’t communicate that way either. So the pilot decided it was safer to land and find a blow dryer rather than proceed overseas. But he couldn’t tell the tower why he was landing, because again, no radio.

There is a backup communications system, though. There is a code that the pilot can enter to let the tower know that he’s having communication problems. Unfortunately, someone accidentally put in the wrong code–the one for “We’re being hijacked.” Thankfully, the mess was cleared up before any severe action had to be taken.

My point is that this is why we’re not supposed to bring more than a certain amount of liquid onto a plane.

No, that’s not my point. My point is that there don’t even have to be any hijackers on a plane for it to get hijacked. We’re not even safe on planes. And if we’re not safe on planes, then where are we safe? v

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to

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