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Escapee not so sharp after all

January 27, 2009

What's the old line, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all"?

In the grand scheme of things, I guess five days on the lam after escaping from a state prison isn't all that bad. Usually escapees are tracked down about 20 minutes after they release the hounds. Usually the guy is sitting in a local bar.

So Kandelario Garcia-Ramos was lucky in the sense that he was able to avoid capture for so long. But unlucky in the sense that -- well, how was he to know that he was on a farm owned by a prosecuting attorney?

That's not good. That's like a balloon escaping from a needle factory and winding up on a porcupine ranch.

Of course Garcia-Ramos was no stranger to sharp objects. On his way to breakfast at 5:30 in the morning, he scaled two of those fierce-looking fences topped with rolls of concertina wire. In a way you can understand. Being faced with a choice between being slashed with razors and having to consume solid food before daylight, I'd have to think long and hard.

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But still, anyone who has seen those fences has to be impressed. All I know about prison escapes I learned from "The Shawshank Redemption," and crossing razor wire makes Andy Dufresne's 200-yard crawl through a sewer pipe look like a nature walk on Martha's Vineyard.

So you subject yourself to a thousand steel blades and drop down to the other side, and then what? For one, you don't speak English. And two, you find yourself in the heart of Washington County. I'm surprised that fact alone wouldn't cause you to brave the razor wire one more time and scamper back.

But in for a penny, in for a pound, I suppose.

Police believe Garcia-Ramos broke into a home and a church, taking knives, jewelry, sunglasses and a camera.

Knives, I get. And jewelry. You could sell it and get some cash. Sunglasses -- maybe. The break has to be done in style.

But a camera?

What, was he planning on featuring this little personal journey in his annual Christmas letter? "Dear Friends and Family: It's been an exciting and rewarding year in the Garcia-Ramos household ..." (Flash to photo of him being chased down a creek by K-9s.)

I don't know, maybe he wanted to update his Facebook page.

But whatever the case, it did him no good because he made the same mistake that so many other hardened criminals make: He went to Sheetz.

Yes it's tempting, after being locked up for so long, to want to finally get a taste of good coffee and a Schmuffin. But do it at your own risk because Sheetz employees do not miss a trick.

They're used to nabbing about nine attempted gas drive-offs a shift, so what chance does a convicted murderer have?

Even better, Sheetz employees became suspicious after seeing a man loitering and drinking coffee in the parking lot. To do this you have to be good -- considering that at any given time there are about a dozen people in the Sheetz parking lot loitering and drinking coffee.

But Garcia-Ramos could not have known this. Consider that many of the inmates from the state prisons are not from around here. True story: When I was teaching English out at the prisons last fall, I made a passing reference to Sheetz. Many in the class had quizzical looks on their faces until one raised his hand and asked, "What's a 'Sheetz?'"

Now they know. And I suspect they will not make the same mistake again.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com.

  

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