You know from many a caper movie that there are just some places you can't get into without a team of hackers and George Clooney. But some of the most secure locations in the world have been breached by children, drunks and hobos who didn't even necessarily know where they were or what day it was.
It turns out that the only thing keeping most of these places safe is that not a lot of people actually try to get in. When they do, they find it's not all that hard to infiltrate ...
If you were asked to name the most secure location on planet Earth, you'd probably guess that it's the home of the President of the United States. We mean, it's got to be that or Area 51, right?
Actually, people manage to infiltrate the White House all the damn time. It's a long-standing tradition of terrifying security breaches that started when Charles Dickens (yes, that Charles Dickens) broke into the White House in 1842 when President Tyler failed to answer the door fast enough.
"It was the best of times and the worst of security systems."
Naturally, after three presidents were assassinated between 1865 and 1901, security was elevated quite a bit. But a hell of a lot of people pass through the White House, and the CIA doesn't necessarily have the time or manpower to keep an eye on every one of them. The historian Bill Bryson told a tale of a little old lady named Julia Chase who once broke away from a White House tour group and walked around the mansion for over an hour, "setting small fires."
"I like to imagine I'm freeing the souls of wronged children."
But the latest national crisis to spawn from some random White House intrusion was in 2009, at a state dinner for the Prime Minister of India. Tareq and Michaele Salahi were not invited to the event, but nonetheless they showed up anyway, walking past two security checkpoints due to the insistence of police officers outside to keep the line moving. Once inside, a few suspicious workers tried to confirm who they were, but to no avail, and the couple managed to spend the evening at the gala, even meeting Barack Obama and having a photo taken with Joe Biden.
lol OMG ur dress iz sooooo pretyt lol!!!!!!1
White House security wasn't aware of the intrusion until the next day, when the Salahis bragged about their stunt on Facebook. It just goes to show that although the Secret Service may slip up once in a while, Mark Zuckerberg is always watching.
One important lesson we learned from Japan earlier this year is that it's easy to forget how terrifying nuclear power plants are when they're not melting down. Nuclear plants have to be designed with all kinds of safety precautions to prevent them from converting a hundred square miles of country into a place where you could film a fake moon landing. So we're definitely safe from anyone crazy enough to want to blow one up, right? Sure. Unless they have wire cutters!
The only thing that separates this man from a supervillain is a short drive and some elbow grease.
In 2003, Greenpeace decided to break into the Sizewell B nuclear plant in England, just to see if they could do it. They came armed only with dreadlocks, tie-dyed T-shirts and wire cutters, the only tools they figured would release an acceptable level of carbon emissions. Luckily for them (but not so much for us), the most high-tech security system they came up against was a fence and a sign asking them to please not come in and blow up the power plant.
A very short time later, the activists were in the central control room of the plant, looking at a whole bunch of big red buttons with "For the love of God do not ever push" written on them.
"Damnit, now I have to push it!"
But surely this was just a freak event that could never, ever happen again, right? Greenpeace decided to test this theory in 2010 when they tried to break into a nuclear plant in Sweden. Once again, they just jumped a fence, and they were inside. It's just pure luck that, rather than a bunch of terrorists with suitcase bombs, they were hippies in stupid-looking wind turbine costumes who were only there to yell at people.
Yep, we view this person with total, unwavering seriousness.
When you imagine what Wikipedia calls "the greatest art theft of the 20th century," you're probably envisioning some amazing Ocean's Eleven-style caper. In reality, the true story of the guy who stole the freaking Mona Lisa from the Louvre makes it sound like you or any of your friends could have done it.
Via Wikimedia Commons
Depending on the manliness of your mustaches.
In 1911, an ordinary Italian carpenter named Vincenzo Peruggia hatched a plot to steal the world's most famous work of art from the world's most famous art museum. And by "plot," we mean that he hid in a storeroom until the Louvre was closed and stuffed the Mona Lisa under his shirt. Then he walked out.
The numerous guards he passed on the way out figured that he was an employee, and thought nothing of the oddly square bulge in his clothing.
"Sweet necklace, bro."
When the theft had been discovered, the Louvre authorities had no idea it had just been smuggled out by some random douche. In fact, they suspected some kind of conspiratorial shenanigans. One theory was that Germany had orchestrated the heist in an elaborate "up yours" to France. Hundreds of people were questioned, including Pablo Picasso, who apparently had some kind of major beef against anatomically accurate portraits.
Via Wikimedia Commons
"You call that a portrait, da Vinci? Come back when you have the syphilis needed to make real art."
In any event, it was with a pretty heavy heart that the Mona Lisa was assumed lost forever. That is, until the thief tried to sell it. That's right, the master criminal who managed to pull the world's greatest art heist was the kind of genius who thought he could just sell the Mona Lisa without anybody getting suspicious about where he had gotten it.