#3. Living in a Toys R Us
Jeffrey Manchester earned the nickname "Roofman" following his string of at least 40 crimes in which he drilled holes in the roofs of fast-food joints and then dropped down inside to burglarize them, Mission: Impossible-style. But after becoming the first person to ever escape from Brown Creek Correctional Institution in Polkton, North Carolina, by clinging to the underside of a delivery truck -- a move so cliche that even '70s action movies tsk and shake their heads when they see it -- Roofman decided that earning a nickname that sounds like the lamest superhero ever wasn't quite enough of a legacy for him.
"It used to be Roofieman, but then girls started avoiding me in clubs."
So he decided to turn over a new leaf and leave his life of crime behind him. He took on the new persona of "John," a generous churchgoing volunteer who was always giving toys to kids and even developed a healthy relationship with a new girlfriend.
Only, wait a minute -- Roofman hadn't turned over a new leaf at all, because all those toys he was giving to needy children were stolen from the Toys R Us he was living in by night.
And they were all Jabba and Jar Jar toys, the monster.
Yep, you read that right: The guy just decided to set up shop in the place he was stealing from. Roofman hid in a cubbyhole in a bike display until the store closed, then, once everyone was gone, he emerged from his hiding place to ride bikes around the store, race remote-control cars on the roof and mess around with the employees' work schedules like some kind of asshole gremlin. He even had everything there that he needed to sustain himself, because he ate stolen baby food. OK, maybe that last part wasn't quite so awesome.
When Roofman's dream home became too crowded during the holiday shopping season, he built a secret passageway into the abandoned Circuit City next door, where he constructed the ultimate man-boy cave, complete with posters, action figures, a toy basketball hoop and a DVD player to watch superhero movies while wishing for a cooler nickname.
"Maybe I could be Spider-Man without the hyphen. Like Dr. Ralf Spiderman. That could work."
He had everything an ethically challenged man-boy could possibly wish for, right? Apparently not, because his ultimate plan was to rob the Toys R Us.
So Roofman used a baby monitor to watch over the store's employees from his secret lair, and on the day after Christmas, he burst into the store with a gun he had stolen from a pawn shop and attempted a takeover-style robbery. But two of the employees said "We don't get paid for this shit" and slipped out, forcing Roofman to abandon his plan and allowing the police to discover his secret hideaway and the clues that led to his eventual identification and recapture.
"Man, old habits die hard. I get less time for this, right?"
Some people are just never satisfied, we guess.
#2. Napping on Top of a Fridge
Scrap-metal thieves do big business in times like these, with metal prices on the rise. A trio of them in New Jersey set their sights on the basement of a restaurant in South Brunswick, New Jersey, that was full of copper pipe. Also, apparently all metal thieves in South Brunswick were separated at birth.
Although there may have been a Klingon involved with the guy on the right.
Not long after Christian, Israel and Richard up there got their Sawzall party started in the basement of Big Ed's Restaurant, the shindig got crashed by the cops, who had noticed their vehicle illegally parked behind the establishment. The three crooks scattered.
Christian was nabbed right away; Richard turned up at a cheap motel about an hour later. But Israel was nowhere to be seen.
"I'm gonna live it up ridin' the copper train!"
After a couple of hours of fruitless searching in the area, the police decided to return to the scene of the crime to survey the damage. When they went to the basement, where the thieves had done thousands of dollars' worth of damage ripping copper pipes out of the restaurant equipment, they heard an ungodly sound coming from the top of a refrigeration unit. Apparently in all the excitement of the police bursting in and the ensuing piss-your-pants-and-run confusion, the thieves had left one of their saws running.
Except no, it wasn't a power tool at all -- it was Israel, fast asleep and loudly snoring on top of the refrigerator. He had hidden there while the cops chased his companions and dozed off while the cops were off scouring the countryside for him. The Taiwan animation company Next Media Animation reported the event in their usual bizarre style.
Yeah, this wasn't exactly Ocean's Eleven here. But we can find at least one guy with a dumber story ...
#1. In the Trunk of a Judge's Car
When a 16-year-old criminal escaped from a holding cell at a Michigan courthouse after being detained for a probation violation, he knew he needed a getaway vehicle. He used his uncanny teenage mischief-sense to scan for the one unlocked car in the lot.
Teenage senses aren't very sophisticated.
The criminal gods were smiling on him -- he immediately found one ripe for the taking. Then he jacked the car and went on a three-state doughnut-and-powerslide spree, right? Not exactly. What he actually did was pop the trunk, climb inside and shut himself in. Presumably he was looking less for a means of escape and more for a comfy place to curl up for a nice nap and possibly a little asphyxiation.
But that actually wasn't the worst part of his plan. The car he was stowing away in belonged to a freaking judge, the honorable Peter Maceroni.
Yeesh. Poor guy looks like somebody stuffed a feather in a cap.
This is the point in any good Hollywood comedy where it would have turned out that the judge was just about to embark on a cross-country road trip along a carefully planned route made up of only the bumpiest country roads. But, instead, courthouse security saw that next to the vehicle was some stuff the criminal had knocked out of the car's glove compartment in the course of unlocking the trunk and very quickly put two and two together. We have to say, for the teenage fugitive, it was probably the best possible ending to the story.
"I know how this looks, but the thing is -- I'm an idiot."
For more criminals a few bricks short of a full house, check out 6 Baffling Mistakes Criminals Apparently Make All the Time and The 7 Most Retarded Criminal Excuses of All Time.