JACK SIMPSON: Crime marches on

It struck me as common sense that a professional car thief would plan each caper carefully. Having stolen before, some degree of efficiency would be expected. Even if he was a pickpocket, a shoplifter, scammer, his goal would be to plan, pull off the theft and stay out of jail.

So what happened recently down Mexico way when two car thieves stole a VW truck with a movable platform and a crane on it? I guess they didn’t know the vehicle was also carrying a cargo of cobalt-60, the radioactive material taken from a medical therapy machine and being transported for storage. If not handled properly, this stuff is lethal.

We can only wonder from media reports if the cobalt was labeled and marked as dangerous. We wondered also why it was not under escort.

The gunmen noticed the driver asleep in the truck in a local parking lot. They carjacked the driver and made off with the vehicle and the cargo. Were they professional thieves, terrorists, or just opportunists?

The vehicle and cargo were later recovered 24 miles from where the theft took place. Media reports indicated that it appeared the thieves opened the cargo out of curiosity.

Surprise, surprise! By their actions, the gunmen made themselves radioactive and sealed their fate. They are expected to die within days from radioactive poisoning. A nearby family may join them because they carried some of the cargo into their home. By their immature actions and failure to read any warnings posted, they are also now radioactive. Exposure will kill them as well.

In a sense, all parties have been tried and convicted to death in the court of natural justice. Hospitals in the area have been alerted to look out for anyone seeking help for radiation poisoning. This caper is a prime example that there are no free lunches and crime does not pay. There are always consequences. Poor planning made this crime a failure before the get-go.

The conclusion of this carjacking will be remembered. It may even act as a deterrent for awhile. However, the march of crime is ongoing and some people never learn except by the hard way.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.