The Wages of Sin

In crime, as in other business endeavors, it is imagination, pluck and thinking in big terms that spell success. This is the American way, and it is right. But in a system of free enterprise there should always be room at the bottom for the little fellow who is neither mentally nor morally fit to compete with the big boys. And on behalf of the tin-horn punk, friends of small business look with uneasiness upon recent developments in the world of crime.

Within the past week, two journeyman hoodlums, while attempting to play the trade that had kept them for years in the pitiful squalor to which they were accustomed, received shameful treatment at the hands of their intended victims. It was not capture that rankled (one got clean away, and is presumably sulking in his dingy hide-away), but the absolute indifference that was shown their efforts.

One of the minor read agents, a New Yorker, presented a note to the teller at the 43rd St. Merchants' Trust Bank saying, "This is a stick-up. Pass over all your cash and no one will get hurt." The teller was indeed stuck-up--insufferably so. She hardly glanced at the poor wretch, but replied, "Well, you must have that O.K.ed by an officer." Then she left her cage, walked to a guard and gave the rascal in charge. After searching him, finding neither weapons nor money, the guards threw him out of the bank. "We thought he was a bum," they explained. The next back he tried also ignored the would be bandit untill he was leaving, when police finally collared him.

In London similar indignities were afoot. A thief entered a jewelry store and announced to the bored proprietor, "This is a held-up." As the merchant calmly pushed the desperado out of the store, he said, "Nonsense, I've got not time to waste with hoodlums."

Now, no one expects much furor love petit larceny these days when the top men in the field are hitting Brinks for millions, but indifference is downright impolite. If the small-timer does not rate headlines, he at least deserves the dignity of arrest. "Attention must be paid to these men of little talent, who nonetheless are doing their best.