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"Stupid Crook Tricks: Global Dumbing"

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Time now for another exciting episode of "Stupid Crook Tricks," the hard-hitting series that presents actual cases of bumbling incompetence by some of the most inept criminal masterminds in America.

All of these stories are true. The names have been eliminated to protect the dumb, de-dumb-dumb, dumb, de-dumb-dumb-duuuumb.

Today, we here at CSI (Criminal Stupidity Investigations) go overseas to track down crooks whose idiocy knows no boundaries.

We begin in Italy with some legal advice for prospective criminals: When in Rome, don't do as this Roman did. Hunger got the best of a convicted drug trafficker who had eluded Italian police by hiding out in Belgium. He was nabbed when he came back home for a plate of his wife's lasagna. Acting on a tip, as well as the aroma of simmering tomato sauce, cops burst into the house at lunchtime and arrested the dumb diner, who was definitely out to lunch.

Another lesson for crooks to chew on: Never sleep on the job. That's what happened in Malaysia, where a bungling burglar broke into an empty house and pocketed several hundred dollars in cash before taking a nap. He woke up the next morning when the homeowner returned and called police. The drowsy dope went from being under a rest to under arrest.

The last tip for international idiots: Always go to the bathroom before leaving the house. That's what a bank robber in Denmark failed to do prior to hiding in a bank vault. He got locked in and had to wait until the bank opened the next morning to get out. Meanwhile, he had to answer the call of nature, so he relieved himself in a box before escaping with jewelry and $500,000 in cash. Cops got the whiz kid's DNA and later arrested him. Needless to say, it wasn't a safe deposit.

These three cases are overwhelming evidence of global dumbing. As a proud American, however, I can say with utter confidence that crooks in the United States still lead the world in stupidity.

Exhibit A: The guy who robbed a convenience store in South Carolina, got in his truck and started going the wrong way. The truck broke down, so the genius hailed a cab and asked the driver to take him to a town that the driver had never heard of. When they came upon the store that had just been robbed, the crook told the cabbie to ask a cop for directions. The cop recognized the idiotic passenger from a surveillance tape and arrested him. For once a man asked for directions and look what happened.

Exhibit B: The moronic motorist in Ohio who led police on a high-speed chase before abandoning his car and jumping a fence -- directly into a prison yard. It was a women's prison, so he had to be transferred to a men's facility. At least he didn't need to ask for directions.

Exhibit C: This one stands for Connecticut, my home state, which has no shortage of stupid crooks, like the guy in Old Saybrook who burglarized three condos and then called the cops to report that his getaway car had been stolen. When the police pulled up, they saw the felonious fool with a pillowcase full of loot and arrested him.

Then there was the pothead in Farmington who called 911 to ask how much trouble he could get into for growing a marijuana plant. He soon found out. Maybe his case will be tried in a high court.

Finally, there was the idiot in New Canaan who called police to report that his car had been rear-ended by some other dummies who had allegedly robbed him of his marijuana. And the governor wants to decriminalize small amounts of the stuff.

I don't know if that's a good idea, but I do know this: When it comes to stupid crooks, it's a small world after all.

Stamford Advocate columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of "Leave It to Boomer." Visit his blog: www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net.