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Archive for Monday, March 13, 2006

Serious business

Some “kidding” is far out of line and deserves significant penalties.

March 13, 2006

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How can anyone of sound mind be dumb enough these days to try to play a "joke" by faking a bank robbery or claiming to possess a bomb or weapon when getting on an airplane.

Yet a man wearing a ski mask recently went into a Williston, N.D., bank and demanded money. He then told the tellers, "just kidding." But no one was laughing.

The 20-year-old then surrendered to police. His bail was set at $1,000, far too low, and he was ordered to stay away from alcohol, which apparently figured in his caper.

"He never showed a weapon but the tellers got quite scared and concerned and thought the worst," said a police sergeant.

Talk to people who work in banks in our area, particularly those who have been on duty when actual holdups occurred. Many can't find words to discuss their fright and fear of serious bodily harm, and their mental torture in the aftermath. For the most part, people at airports have stopped trying to be funny by suggesting violence. We need to take steps to keep it that way.

"You don't walk into a bank with a ski mask and say, 'Give me all your money,'" said a police officer. "That's the same as going on an airplane and saying you have a bomb."

The man faces up to five years confinement and a $5,000 fine. He might get off easier, considering the circumstances and the alcohol issue. But whatever penalties are meted out should send a message that such foolishness has serious consequences.

There are too many other ways to play jokes without suggesting that someone is due to be harmed.

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