The Old Have Gone Bad

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Photo: iStockphoto

Bernie Madoff's heinous crime may still be the largest Ponzi scheme uncovered by the recession to date. But when it comes to old crime, his was merely the first warning breeze in what has since spiraled into a tornado of activity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Wrinkly Riviera, a.k.a. Florida. Just the other day, 73-year-old Tampa resident Joseph Bruce, a construction-store owner, made headlines when he was arrested for robbing a bank in order, he said, to pay his mortgage. And today, a local newspaper relays some startling statistics: In the past two months alone, 29 area people over the age of 70, and 42 people between the ages of 66 to 70, have been arrested for various criminal activity. Many of them, like Joseph, say they have committed crimes in order to provide basic necessities for themselves. Others are like 77-year-old Mary Joan Webb, who was arrested this past December for stealing in order to feed a habit.

A tchotchke habit.

She is accused of stealing $534 worth of merchandise from Macy's at WestShore Plaza, police said. A security officer said he saw her take some crystal ornaments and a chocolate bar and put them into her jacket and purse. Records show this wasn't her first offense. At age 73, she pleaded guilty to grand theft and was sentenced to a year and a half of probation for taking about $2,376 worth of small crystal and porcelain figurines from Neiman Marcus at International Plaza.


Florida residents would be advised to lock up their hard candies, musky cologne, and prune-juice supplies. Mark our words: Once these people really get going, they'll go after anything that's not nailed down.

Older isn't always wiser, as jail records show [St. Petersburg Times]
Related: Intel's coverage of crimes committed by old people.