Criminal intelligence lacking around New Zealand

Crime doesn't pay, particularly for those who fall well outside the criminal mastermind category. Brendan Manning reports.

The name should have given it away, but a couple inspired by a television show called World's Dumbest Criminals failed to heed the warning.

A scheme described by Judge John McDonald as ''harebrained'' and ''doomed from the start'' involved Tuki Hanlon robbing his girlfriend's checkout at the Whangarei supermarket where she had worked for two years.

As Jade Kaire-Laybourn scanned Hanlon's two bags of chips, he gave her a typed note in text language saying he had a gun, and she handed over more than $1300.

Police uncovered the scam three weeks later. Kaire-Laybourn was sentenced to four months' home detention for the burglary and a further month for giving police a false statement.

Hanlon was sentenced to 11 months' jail after pleading guilty to three charges of burglary - one for the Countdown incident and two for breaking into cribs.

Judge McDonald noted Hanlon hadn't even had the nous to find a bandanna and said the couple ''weren't even bright enough to watch a decent criminal programme''.

It appears Dannevirke police were aware of the show, too. They dubbed David Abraham James Kendrick, then 19, one of the town's dumbest crooks after he crashed his car in July while drunk - then asked for police help to retrieve it.

He attempted to tow the crashed vehicle with a ute, but when he was unable to do so, flagged down a police vehicle for assistance.

Kendrick admitted he had been drinking and said he knew he was over the limit, but just wanted to get his car home after it had crashed.

He was convicted of drink-driving and fined $500, ordered to pay court costs of $132.89 and disqualified from driving for six months.

Back in Northland, a Kaitaia man who was lucky to avoid a head-on collision with a police car in March, told officers he was pleased he had been caught drink-driving because it would stop his partner warning him to stay sober behind the wheel.

The officers in the police car had to swerve to avoid an oncoming car overtaking on double yellow lines.

They turned round and stopped the car, being driven by Patrick Joseph Hobson, then 24, further along the road.

''I have been doing this for a while. I am glad you caught me as my missus will be happy,'' Hobson told police.

Hobson was convicted, fined $200 and disqualified from driving for six months.

It wasn't just drivers that proved easy to catch.

A burglar was arrested in Hastings in May after a police patrol spotted him walking down a suburban street carrying a 107cm plasma television. The arrest was one of eight in 24 hours after a spate of burglaries.

And in the Bay of Plenty, Kawerau copper thieves were lucky to be alive after their actions caused the explosion of a Horizon Energy power pole in early September.

The theft of a copper earth wire with a scrap value of around $20 and tampering with a switch resulted in a fireball that spread burning debris over a 5m radius.

A spokesman for the Horizon electricity lines company, Derek Caudwell, said the thieves were lucky to be alive.

''It is highly likely that they suffered burns at least.''

Christchurch police likened the actions of a cannabis-smoking tagger to the movie Dumb and Dumber after finding the culprit asleep in his car with bright green paint on his hands.

Kaiapoi Sergeant Mike Brooklands said it appeared the suspect and his companion fell asleep after drinking too much and smoking cannabis. He could hardly contain his laughter after rousing 33-year-old Samuel More.

Police were alerted after a member of the public found graffiti sprayed over rocks and a rubbish bin at Kairaki Beach.

''One of them had decided to tag the rocks and rubbish bin to match the tag on the rear of his car.''

More pleaded guilty in the Dunedin District Court to intentional damage and possessing cannabis and was sentenced to 200 hours' community service.

In April, a young man admitted he was stupid after urinating on a wall at the entrance to the Greymouth courthouse in daylight, and in plain view of court staff.

Lucas Duncraft, then 20, who had bypassed the public toilets inside the courthouse, ran off and when spoken to by police denied the offence. But he was convicted, fined $180 and sentenced to 40 hours' community work.

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