The danger of stereotypes

If you were driving by and saw on the sidewalk a man struggling with a woman over a bag, what would you think?

Two people in that situation assumed that the man was mugging the woman and so they stopped the car and restrained him during which time the woman managed to escape. Satisfied that they had averted a robbery, the helpful passersby left the scene.

Unfortunately, it was the woman who was trying to steal the bag from the man and now police are now looking for her.

(Via Gawker)


  1. Kevin says

    What’s the law say in this situation? They lack mens reas to be criminally liable, but what about being civilly liable? After all, they did help someone rob the guy.

  2. Kate from Iowa says

    Which just goes to show you…the appropriate response is “Hello, 911? I think I see someone being robbed!”

  3. Art says

    From the confused situation files: A man wore a bandanna around his face working on a construction site forgets to remove the bandanna before leaving the site and walking home. A man sees the guy with the bandanna on and, as a joke, raises his hands as a parody of a robbery. A police car going by sees a man with a mask standing in front of a guy with his hands raised. Hijinks ensue.

  4. Jared A says

    Tangentially, I love that scene in “Muppets take Manhattan” when Miss Piggy beats the crap out of a purse thief, and then when the cops show up and ask what’s going on the battered thief says “She stole my purse!”

  5. M Groesbeck says

    Ah, but going through NRA training would make their snap judgments infallibly correct!

  6. machintelligence says

    In the middle of the night a drunken woman drove her car into my neighbor’s parked truck and both vehicles ended up on my lawn. She got out and ran off with my neighbor chasing her, dressed only in his pajamas. When he caught up to her,she yelled “Rape!” and people tackled him. She escaped, but unfortunately had left her unconscious boyfriend in the wrecked car. Police eventually sorted it all out and arrested her the next day.

    These things happen.

  7. smrnda says

    Overall, ambiguous situations (at least ambiguous to a passer-by) are going to result in some bad calls. I recall a scene in The Fugitive when Harrison Ford is running away from Tommy Lee Jones and tells a cop or security officer that a man is screaming with a gun. They stop Tommy which gives Ford enough time to escape, even though Tommy was law enforcement and Ford was the fugitive.

    All said, this is why I do not support concealed carry. Let’s say a guy pulls out a gun. Wannabe hero then pulls out second gun and point at first guy. Next wannabe hero shows up and sees two guys with guns drawn and has to figure out who to point his gun at. Fourth guy pulls up and process continues.

  8. Brian M says

    Better yet, imagine the fun fun times if the crime was on a crowded street. All kinds of passerbys could have been involved! Glory!

  9. Brian M says

    Fourth guy can just shoot ’em all and let Yahweh sort them out! That’s the AMERICAN solution!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *