Hey, mister, can you spare a dime?

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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What would you do with two million dimes?

Feed a lot of parking meters…purchase gum or mints at a restaurant checkout….toss a few in a fountain and make a wish…or use them to trace a small circle (make that a lot of small circles).

Or you can take them to one of those coin-counting kiosks and cash ‘em in for currency.

Someone…perhaps 10 someones…made off with two million dimes ($200,000) during a robbery last week in the City of Brotherly Love (aka Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

But this heist didn’t occur at a bank, or a retail store, or even from a person’s private residence (who would keep that sizeable amount of money at their home anyway?).

This coin caper took place from a truck. Not from an armored vehicle, mind you, but rather from a truck…a tractor trailer.

According to various news outlets, the unnamed driver of that truck was to haul $750,000 in dimes that were picked up from the United States Mint in Philadelphia.

The Sunshine State of Florida was reportedly the destination of the dimes. It wasn’t exactly clear if the dimes were all headed to the same location or if there was to be several stops for the driver to make. What is known is that the dimes were in containers that were placed on 15 pallets. Each pallet contained $50,000 worth of dimes.

Due to regulations that limit the number of hours that a driver of a big rig can be behind the wheel, this person parked overnight at the Philadelphia Mills shopping mall and left to go get some sleep before heading south on Thursday morning.

In between, culprits used a bolt cutter to remove the padlock on the trailer and then went inside to help themselves to two million dimes.

As you can imagine, the parking lot near the tractor trailer was littered with dimes as the culprits dropped as many as they stole. It took hours to clean up the mess.

Police believe the suspects, perhaps as many as 10 individuals according to surveillance cameras at the mall, got away in a white Chrysler 300 with tinted windows as well as a dark-colored pickup truck. The suspects were seen wearing all black and gray sweatshirts.

It’s perhaps a safe guess that the culprits are strong men or women. According to the U.S. Mint website, one dime weighs 2.268 grams. So, in this case with the theft of 2 million dimes, that comes out to approximately 10,000 pounds. That’s five tons, folks!! Somebody got quite the workout in this caper.

Philadelphia police captain John Ryan told an NBC affiliate that there have been a number of cargo thefts over the past several months in his city where food items, TVs, kitchen appliances and even alcohol had been stolen.

It remains unclear if the driver faces any charges.

In a statement to NBC Philadelphia, John Chu, the acting chief of public affairs at the United States Mint, said, “The carrier responsible for the shipment is a commercial contractor and is personally insured against incidents of loss or theft.”

I don’t intend to make fun of a crime, but when I read the online news reports of this coin caper, the first thought that came to mind was the 1974 comedy movie Blazing Saddles. There’s a scene showing the bad guys, racing on horseback to destroy the town of Rock Ridge, encountering the “Gov. William J. Le Petomane Thruway” toll booth. The toll is 10 cents. “Taggert” (the lead bad guy portrayed by Slim Pickens) tells one member of the group to go back and get a “(expletive omitted) load of dimes.”

I assume that the culprits in last week’s heist knew what cargo was inside that tractor trailer. But I would love to know how they plan to cash in on all those coins bearing the face of Franklin D. Roosevelt?

If they don’t attempt to cash them in at a coin kiosk, there aren’t a lot of other options. I mean, face it, wouldn’t it raise a red flag if you are a car salesperson and a customer comes in wanting to purchase a Porsche or a Lamborghini and pay for it with two million dimes? Ditto for buying a house, or any high price item for that matter.

Perhaps we can add these coin culprits to a growing list of “dumb crook news.” Here are some of those “winners” as featured on the Readers Digest website.

Graham Price of South Wales ripped off the bank where he worked, but he wasn’t completely duplicitous. He left a note in the safe: “Borrowed, seven million pounds”—signed “Graham Price.”

When a man broke into the Ravelli Republic (Montana) newsroom, he used the computers to watch porn and check Facebook. He then doused the office with a fire extinguisher, took some candy, and left. It wasn’t difficult to find him, however; the police just followed the trail of stolen M&Ms that led to his sister’s place across the street.

A Target store in Augusta, Georgia, agreed to take back a printer from a dissatisfied customer. Then the clerk noticed some work the customer forgot to remove from the machine: Counterfeit bills.

In York, Pennsylvania, a man’s alleged attempt to rob a bank was met with some snags. Cops say the first teller he tried to rob fainted and the next two had no more cash in their drawers. Fed up, the would-be robber stormed out, threatening to write an angry letter to the bank.

An angler lost his first-place medal and was charged with a felony after it was discovered that he’d cheated in a Texas fishing tournament by stuffing a one-pound weight down the throat of a bass he’d caught. Officials became suspicious when they placed his fish in a tank and it sank to the bottom.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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