The 9 Most Hilarious Ways Criminals Were Caught

We know from watching Law and Order that detectives have a difficult job, tediously interviewing suspects and following one false lead after another in order to catch a perp. But it's not always that hard -- occasionally, the criminals will throw the cops a bone and just hilariously bungle their way into prison. For example ...

#9. Thieves Are Constantly Uploading Selfies from Stolen iPhones

So you've gotten your hands on the latest iPhone model, pilfered from an unwitting stranger. What's the first thing you do? If you said, "Find the nearest public restroom for an impromptu photo shoot," congratulations, you're a goddamn idiot. You're also, surprisingly, not alone.

If you've found yourself stealing phones to support your uncontrollable selfie habit, it might be good to know that lots of people have their phones set up to send all pictures straight to their email, or cloud storage. Albert Wilson didn't realize this, and after he snapped this charming portrait on the phone he stole, he was quickly apprehended.

He'd later claim Hannibal Buress was framing him.

And although she wasn't caught, much more hilarious are the photos of an as-yet-unidentified woman who stole Allen Engstrom's iPad. Engstrom returned the favor by posting the thief's glamor shots of Facebook.

Allen Engstrom/Facebook
There seems to be an unsettling correlation between phone theft and strabismus.

Then there is the Disney employee who stole Katy McCaffrey's iPhone last year while she was a passenger on the cruise ship he worked on. Katy gained Internet fame after she uploaded the photos that were streamed to her iCloud account to Facebook, narrating his life with sarcastic captions.

Kate McCaffrey/Facebook

Kate McCaffrey/Facebook

How does she know his name? Because in several pictures, his company name tag is clearly visible.

Kate McCaffrey/Facebook
And thanks to those tight pants, that wasn't the only thing.

Nelson wasn't arrested for the theft, but the company placed him on "administrative leave." For her part, Katy is hoping to score some free passes to Disneyland out of the ordeal.

#8. Multiple Criminals Have Butt-Dialed 911 While Committing Crimes

Accidentally dialing someone when your phone is in your pocket is one of those scenarios that sci-fi writers somehow never anticipated when they promised us personal communicators (you never saw Captain Kirk "butt-dial" the Romulans). And while it's bad enough when you accidentally call up an ex, it can't be much worse than what happened to Nathan Teklemariam and Carson Rinehart.

The pair were breaking into a car earlier this year when one of them butt-dialed 911. Confused by the voices that weren't directed at him, the dispatcher nevertheless stayed on the line, in case there was trouble. It wasn't long before talk of drugs, the sound of glass breaking, and discussion of just how exactly this car should be broken into made it clear to the dispatcher that it was in fact a police-type situation.
"Man, I hope no calls the cops about this Class-D felony we're currently committing."
"hhhmmm ..."

While the dispatcher stayed on the line, police used clues from their conversation to find the thieves and began following them in the car. Their panicked conversation can be heard on the recording, hilariously confused about how they were found out. After he was told about the damning call, however, one of the men coolly summed up the matter with, "We really called 911? Damn."

Incredibly, the same thing happened to Scott Simon just a few days later, when he accidentally called the police while discussing a murder he was planning to (and later did) commit. Seriously, guys, you turn your phones off at the movie theater, for Pete's sake, maybe be a little conscientious of them while you're discussing the details of your felonies?
"Only Facebook humblebrags from now on."

#7. A Criminal Tattoos an Entire Crime Scene on his Chest

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Planning the perfect murder isn't easy -- there can't be any witnesses or physical evidence for the CSI team, and you have to resist the urge to tattoo a confession right on your goddamned chest. That last one is what tripped up Anthony Garcia, a member of the notorious "Rivera-13" gang, who after a 2004 shooting of a rival gang member came up with the bright idea of permanently inking a play-by-play mural of the murder on his entire upper body.

Detectives were going over random snapshots of gang tattoos when they noticed something eerily familiar about the tats of one gang member who had been pulled over for a minor traffic offense. Well, what do you know; the tattoo was almost an exact representation of the scene of a murder that had gone unsolved for almost four years.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Pro Tip: Make sure to include your gang's name and the type of crime to cut down on confusion.

Definitely not one to skip on the details, Anthony Garcia had gone balls out on the drawing of the murder including details that could have come only from someone who had more than a passing interest in the crime. First were the tattoo drawings of the roof, windows and frames of the liquor store, which were the same as those of the liquor store where the murder was committed.

But the clincher was the image of a cartoon peanut-man being shot to death by an angry helicopter. While that's not exactly how things went down, it makes sense when you know that Garcia's gang referred to rival gang members as "peanuts," and Garcia himself went by the nickname "Chopper." The tattoo was so accurate that even the direction in which the shots were fired from the helicopter was exactly as it happened in the murder.

It's like "Pin the Tail on the Conviction."

As if investigators didn't have it easy enough, Garcia had gone ahead to include even more identifying details of the crime scene, such as the crooked streetlight across the road and even the street sign of the street.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
If you look really closely you can even see the tiny tattoo guy working in the liquor store and regretting his life choices.

Cops arrested Garcia a second time, and he soon confessed to an undercover cop. That's probably a detail that he'll leave out of his next tattoo design.

#6. Terrorist Builds a Failed Car Bomb, Leaves his Keys Inside

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

In 2010, Faisal Shahzad sought out to get himself a place on the FBI's Most Wanted list when he came to America to blow part of it up. He bought a cheap car, crammed it with a bunch of explosives and fireworks, and tried to set it off in Times Square. When the timer went off, however, the car didn't explode. It wasn't an act of God -- Shahzad was just really bad at being a terrorist.

U.S. Marshals Service
And really bad at facial hair.

Investigators combing through the failed bomb noticed that while he included fireworks, propane tanks, gasoline, and fertilizer in the car he didn't prep any of the components. Shahzad seemed to have taken a lesson from a Michael Bay movie and assumed that if a bunch of fireworks are close enough together they will ignite each other (they don't). As for the fertilizer, Shahzad apparently didn't realize that he needed to mix it with propane in order for it to do anything but feed a vegetable garden.
Unless your terror target's named "Tannen," this alone isn't accomplishing anything.

So that's why his act of terror didn't actually terrorize anyone. But the reason he was immediately caught is that Shahzad left the keys to his apartment in the car. So not only could the police trace him to where he lived, but he couldn't get into his apartment.

Oh, and along with his apartment keys were the keys to his getaway car, forcing him to take the train home. In the end, it's unlikely that he'll ever be the subject of a blockbuster by Kathryn Bigalow, unless she casts Will Ferrell in the lead.

#5. Man Flees into Police HQ

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Joseph Meacham decided to drive drunk one night in St. Louis, and this was just the first bad decision in a long string of fuckups. After he got pulled over by the police, he pushed the closest cop over and made a beeline for freedom, evidently assuming that the cops would balk at chasing him and forget the whole thing.

Without any kind of plan beyond putting as much distance between himself and the police as possible, Meacham ran into the first building he saw in an attempt to hide. He made it only a short distance before he noticed that a lot of the people working there had blue uniforms and badges. Yes, the building he'd chosen was the St. Louis police headquarters.
If only there'd been some type of warning.

Witnesses would later report that he flew into a decent impression of a bird trapped in a hallway, running in circles and bolting in different directions whenever he spotted a uniform. After a thorough yet brief tour of the police HQ, Meacham eventually ran down the wrong hallway and found himself at a dead end. The police, most of whom had no idea who this guy was or what he was doing there, cautiously closed in, expecting a struggle from what was clearly some kind of dangerous lunatic. Instead, he simply laid down on the floor and curled into a ball. It was like he finally triggered some failsafe in his brain that just shut down his limbs before he could fuck things up any further.

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