Underwater bike ride to launch students' eight-week crime spree
Saturday February 26, 2005
As US coast-to-coast crimewaves go, it is not in the league of Bonnie and Clyde. It lacks both violence and avarice and is further hindered by an overabundance of pre-publicity.
Undeterred, a couple of students from Cornwall are intent on making American criminal history by spending their summer breaking as many US laws as possible.
Starting in the liberal state of California, they hope to evade the attention of local police officers when they ride a bike in a swimming pool and curse on a crazy-golf course.
In the far more conservative - and landlocked - state of Utah, they will risk the penitentiary when they hire a boat and attempt to go whale-hunting.
If they manage to outwit state troopers in Utah, and perhaps federal agents on their trail, they will be able to take a deserved, but nevertheless illegal, rest when they have a nap in a cheese factory in South Dakota.
"There are thousands of stupid laws in the United States, but we are limiting ourselves to breaking about 45 of them," said Richard Smith, from Portreath, Cornwall.
The journey, which appropriately enough begins in Alcatraz, will cover around 18,000 miles and take eight weeks - provided, of course, that Mr Smith and his accomplice, Luke Bateman, are not apprehended along the way.
Mr Smith got the idea for his transatlantic crime wave while playing a board game called Balderdash with his 12-year-old neighbour. One of the game's questions asks players to complete the phrase: "It is illegal in Florida for a widow to ... "
The answer is to parachute on a Sunday. However, as he is not female and has not lost a husband, Mr Smith will be un able to pay homage to his inspiration. Still, there are many more laws to choose from.
"I looked on various websites, one in particular called dumblaws.com, and found loads of stupid laws. Some of them there are outmoded reasons for, others just seem to be ridiculous, like banning whale-hunting in a landlocked state," he said.
Mr Smith has made some preparations for his criminality - although he thinks the cheese factory owner in South Dakota wasn't taking him entirely seriously - but in other states he admits there will be difficulties in transgressing the law.
"Driving round the town square 100 times in Oxford, Mississippi, is going to take for ever because there are no roundabouts," he said. "And I'm rubbish at walking on my hands so crossing the street in Hartford, Connecticut, while walking on them is going to be very difficult."
He is attempting to negotiate a book deal, which could help pay any fines he incurs.