#2. A Famous Jewel Thief Locks Two Guards in a Bathroom
Alfie Hinds was a professional British jewel thief who gained celebrity in the mid-20th century for his repeated prison escapes -- he broke out of three different high-security prisons, maintaining the whole time that he was totally innocent. It turns out that using your impressive jewel thief skills to break out of prison is a bad way to prove that you're not some kind of jewel thief.
The first time he escaped, Hinds managed to simply unlock the prison doors after memorizing the shape of the key and making himself a copy. He was caught again eight months later, and this time they decided it was best not to show him what the key looked like.
"Just let him go, man. He deserves it."
Hinds' second escape came after he filed a lawsuit against his arresting officers for what he claimed was an illegal arrest. But this was an absurd ploy. When he was taken to the courthouse, he asked to use the restroom, but he had already arranged for accomplices to leave a padlock next to the bathroom door. When Hinds' guards removed his handcuffs so he could drain the lizard, he promptly grabbed both guards, threw them into the bathroom stall, and slammed the door shut, padlocking it behind them. Then he ran away like Daffy Duck.
After years of bouncing in and out of the big house, Hinds finally "escaped" prison for good, this time legally. Apparently, he was also some kind of law prodigy, and was able to manipulate a legal loophole to get out of more prison time, even though he was obviously guilty. After this whole mess, the law was changed to prevent this kind of thing from happening again, and Hinds was rewarded with fame and fortune for being little more than a lucky jerk with some law books.
He actually sued the guy who arrested him. No joke.
#1. Richard Lee McNair Just Can't Stay in Prison
In 1987, Richard Lee McNair killed a man and wounded another while attempting to rob a grain elevator in North Dakota (because what else are you going to rob in North Dakota?). The state gave McNair two life sentences and then proceeded to utterly fail in keeping him there. Over the next couple of decades, McNair escaped from two prisons and one county jail, and showed up on America's Most Wanted so often that they may as well have made him co-host.
The first escape was from a police station jail in 1988. Sitting in a room with three detectives, McNair used lip balm to grease his hands up enough to escape from his cuffs, and then got out somehow and made the cops chase him around town in a scene we can only assume was accompanied by "Yackety Sax."
Four years later, McNair escaped from a state penitentiary by crawling out through the ventilation ducts, something we thought was only possible in movies. After that, he evaded police for 10 months before they caught up with him and locked him back up, this time in a maximum security federal prison. Unfortunately, McNair just saw this as a challenge.
In 2006, McNair got himself a job in prison repairing mail bags, and he took the opportunity to climb inside one and mail himself out of prison. After being forklifted to a nearby warehouse, McNair dusted his hands off and simply walked away.
"Um, sir, this one ... farted."
To make things even worse, McNair was spotted hiking along a railway line, questioned, and let go by a police officer later on the day of his escape, an event that was caught on video. How did he get away this time? Despite the fact that he gives two different names during the course of the conversation, has no identification, and matches the description of the escaped convict that the cop is looking for, the officer simply gives him some pointers on railroad safety and sends him on his way. So, apparently, he used a Jedi mind trick.
McNair was eventually caught again and is currently back in prison. At least that was the situation at the time this was written. It might have changed by now.
For more incredible acts of crime, check out 5 Real Bank Heists Ripped Right Out of the Movies and 5 Real World Criminals Who Were Certified Supervillains.