Minneapolis-St. Paul criminals aiming to get a leg up on the law and other thugs are increasingly donning bulletproof vests when they hit the streets, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. When St. Paul police officers pulled over a reputed gangster in April, they found the traditional tools of a would-be criminal – a ski mask and a semi-automatic handgun. They also spotted criminal gear that appears to be gaining in popularity – body armor. Last month in Minneapolis, body armor surfaced in two cases. Police say a man they arrested was wearing a bulletproof vest he wore during a drive-by shooting. Robbers who brandished guns and ordered people in a business to the floor left body armor behind.
Body armor is more readily available than before, especially on the Internet. It’s less expensive than it once was, although still fairly pricey. Criminals may be getting more violent. “Wearing it is almost a fashion statement to some of these guys,” said Minneapolis Capt. Rich Stanek. “I think about when I started as a cop 25 years ago, most cops didn’t wear body armor. Now, a large majority of police officers do, but more and more of the bad guys are, too. They think it makes you invincible, when in fact it doesn’t.” Drug dealers, afraid of being robbed, are one group the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has seen with bulletproof vests. Gangsters also seem to gravitate to bulletproof vests.