No, I was not delighted at the news that some low life had held up his sixth, seventh or even eighth convenience store in a week. And no, I am not in fact, as some have suggested, moonlighting on the side as the Parka Bandit myself, though in my darker, broker hours... Well, we'll just leave it at that.
But I was excited to see the Parka Bandit in the headlines because I coined the term "Parka Bandit" on-air in the middle of last week when I first found out some goon was knocking over gas stations with a black coat's hood cinched down tight over his face. Police spokesman Joel Despain heard it and loved it and ran with it in one of his press releases, and Channel 3 and the Cap Times took it from there.
I had no idea the term would end up being this persistent, but with every store the Parka Bandit hits, it becomes more clear a term is needed to refer to this thug, and I'm pleased mine made the cut.
Again, it seems like a silly thing to get excited over, but I feel like I've achieved some legitimate accomplishment, some rite of passage.
Before I go on, it sounds like this slimeball hit a convenience store again tonight, though a little earlier than he usually strikes. It's the same MO all up and down, though. The suspect walks into a gas station in a black coat, his face covered by the hood, and makes to order a pack of smokes. When he has the clerk's attention, he flashes his piece, they throw money on the counter and he walks away.
It isn't brain surgery. It isn't rocket science. In fact, it's so simple-minded and myopic that this guy has all but guaranteed he's going to be caught eventually. Let's face it. All it would take is an enterprising bystander who realizes that hood cinched down so tight really limits this guy's peripheral vision to bash him over the head with a heavy jar of salsa, and the Parka Bandit's reign of terror would be over.
I've talked to a few police officials about the case, and they all say the same thing: he's not the brightest crayon in the box, and he's probably trying to feed some kind of drug habit.
That's part of the reason I felt coining a moniker for the Parka Bandit was appropriate. Right now, this guy thinks he's walking away with easy money, night in and night out, and he thinks he's pretty tough getting it with a handgun. Others could see his example, and in their own simple, short-sighted ways think they've found a great way to earn a few bucks themselves.
In the long-term, the Parka Bandit will be caught, and he will be locked up in jail for a very long time. But until that happens, we as a society need to make it clear that the bandit's behavior is simply unacceptable. It will not be tolerated. While jail time will make an example of the Parka Bandit eventually, until then he deserves every ounce of our collective derision, accumulated disdain and outright mockery.
Potential copycats need to see that there is nothing glamorous about being a two-bit thug with a handgun, a goofy disguise and delusions of grandeur. Who knows? The Parka Bandit may be a victim of his own circumstances, stealing money to pay off a dangerous debtor or fund his own sick mom's cancer treatment, but he lost any claim for sympathy when he carried a firearm into public and used it to endanger the lives of his fellow Madisonians.
Because as easy as he is to mock, the Parka Bandit and his ilk are two things above all else: dangerous menaces and timebombs waiting to go off. Every time I see a press release come down the pipe about this guy, I hold my breath and hope this wasn't the time the clerk wasn't quick enough with the cash for his liking.
While 95 percent of this sleeze only carries a weapon for show and would never actually use it on an innocent, there's always that dangerous element that's too drugged up or too disconnected from reality or just too nasty to let something like decency stop them from crossing that final line.