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Snake... we thought you were dead!
Snake… we thought you were dead!

Time to give a little credit to your average everyday member of the Thieves’ Guild, those hard-working folks who devote their lives to income redistribution and the reallocation of resources from those who have to those who don’t — namely, themselves. It turns out that you can’t leave anything just lying around in New York City and environs, because somebody’s just waiting to rip it off. That includes bombs hidden in suitcases or backpacks: the second pressure-cooker bomb in Saturday night’s Chelsea attack and a backpack full of pipe bombs in Elizabeth, New Jersey, were both stolen by thieves after the bomber left them out in public. Unless of course the whole story turns out to be fake.

In the case of the Chelsea bomb, after Ahmed Khan Rahami left his second pressure-cooker bomb in a rolling suitcase, two thieves promptly walked off with it from where it sat on West 27th Street, then saved some lives, purely in the interest of more easily making off with the suitcase:

The young men, who sources described as being well-dressed, opened the bag and took the bomb out, sources said, before placing the explosive into a garbage bag and walking away with the rolling suitcase.

In doing so, investigators believe they inadvertently disabled the explosive, sources said. That allowed investigators to examine the cellphone attached to the bomb intact and discover that it was connected to the family of Rahami.

From there, they were able to identify pictures on social media of Rahami’s family and of him, and they matched one of his photos to surveillance footage captured in Manhattan.

Protip: Use a just-purchased burner phone for detonating your IEDs, kids. Don’t terrorists even watch The Wire?

“Who in this world finds a pressure cooker with a phone and just takes the bag?” a law enforcement source said.

The two men are not believed to be involved in the terror plot, but investigators still want to speak to them.

In the second case, a couple of guys described as “would-be thieves” by the website “DNAinfo” but simply as “two men” by the New York Times either “snatched a backpack resting atop a trash can” or “found a backpack” sitting on the garbage bin near a train station, so feel free to be skeptical about the amount of thievery involved. Either way, once the guys looked inside, they saw five pipe bombs and called the police. The FBI sent in a couple of bomb-disposal robots to attempt to disarm the bombs, but one of them went off; nobody was injured. For our money, the DNAinfo version sounds more fun:

They started rooting through the bag and found five explosives that officials say are tied to Rahami, prompting them to immediately drop the bag in the middle of the street and call police, according to reports and the New Jersey State Police.

The more staid Times report doesn’t appear to have any thievery in it:

Two men had walked out of Hector’s Place Restaurant near the city’s train station and found a backpack containing five explosives resting atop a municipal garbage can, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage said.

After finding that the backpack contained “wires and a pipe,” the mayor said, the men dropped the item in the street and contacted the Elizabeth Police Department around 8:45 p.m. The police, in turn, called the Union County bomb squad, and the investigation was quickly turned over to the F.B.I. and the New Jersey State Police, Mr. Bollwage said.

As Terry Pratchett fans, we find the do-gooding ripoff artist narrative far more preferable, even though it may not be as accurate. For that matter, the DNAinfo site is so far the only one saying the unexploded pressure-cooker bomb was taken by thieves, so if this all turns out to be sloppy or very imaginative reporting, we will be sorely disappointed but not terribly surprised.

As of yet, there have been no attempts to tie Pizza Rat to the foiling of the bomb plot.

[DNAinfo / NYT]

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