Friday, August 31, 2007

Broken Windows and Speeding

Saw this story about two dudes pulled over for speeding in South Carolina.

Turns out they were both on student visas from Egypt, in a car with PVC pipe, model rocket fuse, model rocket launchers and potassium chlorate. They said they were interested in 'model rocketry' and the KClO4 (potassium chlorate, for you non-chemists) was to be combined with sugar to make 'solid rocket motors'.

I have a little experience with KClO4, I saw my high school chemistry professor put a little sugar and a little KClO4 into a crucible and with a VERY long pipette, drop in a little sulfuric acid. The net result was a huge jet of flame in the crucible and a lot of otherwise bored high school students suddenly paying attention. KClO4 is a major oxidizer, if you need to burn a fuel you need an oxidizer to provide the extra oxygen for combustion. Notably, oxidizers and fuel are the primary components of every explosive device made.

These dudes deserve their day in court, and they need some good representation or they're going to get a long Cuban vacation. To compound their stupidity, they were pulled over for speeding with a car full of explosive makings seven miles from the US Navy facility where people being held for investigation of terrorist activity are held. It's entirely possible that they were at the absolute wrong place at the wrong time going the wrong speed, and they are the future of Egypt's Manned Space Program, but they're going to have to prove that assertion that now.

And all because -- they were speeding.

What I found interesting was the number of people that get pulled for speeding while they're in the process of committing another crime. Just recently here, a woman was stopped for speeding with $280,000 cash in her 2005 Honda. She claimed she was going from Georgia to Arizona, and basically abandoned the cash. It was seized, but you can't be arrested for having a lot of cash, at least she was smart enough not to be carrying anything actually illegal -- although counting the seizure it's probably one of the most expensive speeding citations ever written. I can only imagine the disappointment of whoever's cash that actually was.

Keep an eye on the news for how many drug arrests or other arrests arise from people pulled over for speeding. It's just mind-boggling how people committing felonies on the interstate don't seem to be smart enough to avoid attracting attention to themselves in the process of doing so. More Darwinism in action, I guess.

From that standpoint, speeding is one of the 'broken window' crimes that law enforcement keeps up on, simply because it seems to net the blatantly stupid felons in society. It may be cold comfort if you get pulled over for speeding, but most of the people reading this blog probably aren't pursuing felonious activity.

1 comment:

Doug Snodgrass said...

I suspect that there is an element of convenience here as well for law enforcement in that a claim of being pulled over for speeding on somebody who they have reason to suspect may be up to no good could be viewed as a solid tool. Sometimes common sense needs a legal backup.

And then there are criminals who are just plain stupid.