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Smart cop, careless crooks make quick work of crime



Published: Mon, May 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Thanks to the alertness and quick thinking of Boardman police Detective Sgt. Stephen Riwniak, Pittsburgh's PNC Bank will not suffer a $900,000 loss, and the three men accused of one of the area's biggest heists are in jail. It's nice to see that at least some of the time, crime does not pay.

We would imagine that good police work happens all the time. It's what the men and women of law enforcement are doing to protect the communities in which they serve. But seldom do such exceptional stories as this make the news. But seldom is nearly $1 million stolen in an armored van robbery.

The police officer stopping for coffee on his way to work has almost become a clich & eacute; of television action dramas -- with or without the doughnuts. But most of the time, it's the squad car radio that alerts the officers to the crime that they rush off to, lights flashing, siren blaring.

Subtle clues

Riwniak's clues to something amiss were much more subtle -- men behaving suspiciously, a Loomis Fargo van parked in a local McDonald's too close to another vehicle, the van driven off with an extra person in the front seat.

With the license plate number of the second car -- a Ford Expedition -- investigators went to the owner's home on the South Side, where they found 12 canvas bags containing cash that was supposed to have been delivered to PNC's ATMs.

Perhaps smarter thieves would have thought twice about using a personal vehicle in the hold-up. Perhaps they might have realized that bringing the loot home and leaving some of it on a table in plain view counted into little piles was not the mark of a sophisticated crook.

But as Michael T. Green, 24, apparently the mastermind of the operation; Anthony M. Simmons, 34, the owner of the Expedition; and Charles K. Anderson, 44, have learned, being a crook is not all it's cracked up to be. The complaint shows that Simmons has already admitted to the crime.

What if they hadn't been apprehended? Would they have been able to hold onto all those new bills -- the serial numbers of which the bank must have had -- as the bad guys do in the movies, waiting for the "heat" to die down?

We doubt it. Even without Riwniak's smart thinking, good police work would have still brought an end to this robbery gone wrong.

The work of law enforcement seldom gets enough credit. We believe it should.




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