Despite what the media would have you believe, most of us do in fact know that Grand Theft Auto is just make-believe. You don't commit outlandish crimes in plain view and then brazenly escape the cops. In the real world, crooks get caught unless they hole up somewhere and disappear.
Well, most of the time. Here are some guys whose stories would have gotten cut from a GTA campaign for being too over-the-top.
#7. Crazy "Lazie" Lynch Escapes Jail, Publicly Mocks Police
When Craig "Lazie" Lynch escaped from custody in Suffolk, England, after being arrested for burglary, one of the first things he did after getting to a place with Internet access was log on to Facebook. He then figured, "Hey, I may as well screw with my former jailers while I'm at it."
Unfortunately all his shirts were recaptured by police.
So he began posting pictures of himself with middle fingers raised to the cops. When he made it to Christmas without being caught, he posted: "Yes! Yes! I fuckin made it to Xmas. I beat their fuckin system and I love it!"
But he didn't stop there. He continued posting Facebook taunts to the police. For months.
Including this picture, accompanied by the heavily London-accented words, "If any of you was doubtin my freedom. Here's proof. How the FUCK could i get my hands on a bird like this in jail. Ha ha."
You're gonna get garland all over your freedom bird, dude.
And this picture:
We're not sure "pull my finger" jokes really translate to Facebook.
And this picture:
Lost kittens, yard sales, dangerous wanted men ... the poster board sign knows how to get the job done.
This went on for more than four months, interspersed with several interviews with news stations that Lazie Lynch conducted by phone for the hell of it. By the time authorities eventually caught up to and nabbed Lynch, he had nearly 40,000 Facebook friends, a YouTube song in his honor, and T-shirts bearing his image, so it was obviously worth it, because that's seriously a lot of Facebook friends.
#6. Train Robber Hides Out by Throwing Barbecues, Recording Songs
Reuters, via Theaustralian.com
The Great Train Robbery is one of those events that all of us have heard of but few of us can recount in any detail. It went down in 1963 when 15 robbers boarded a Royal Mail train between Glasgow and London and made off with today's equivalent of $70 million. Some of them were eventually arrested, one of them escaped from prison and was later caught, and a couple of them were never captured at all. And then there was Ronnie Biggs.
Now that's a wanted poster that deserves a frame.
Biggs was first arrested a year after the robbery when 9 of the 15 robbers were swept up in a raid. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but could only be contained for 15 months before he broke out by scaling a wall with a rope ladder, thus setting off a 36-year life on the lam. And by lam we mean a multi-continent party. He first moved to Australia because, you know, no one had ever done the U.K.-to-Australia route, and who would expect such a thing? Biggs' idea of keeping a low profile involved getting a day job at Melbourne's Channel 9 news, which was convenient, because he was able to get the heads up in October of 1969 when Channel 9 ran with the headline, "Ronnie Biggs Reported to Be Hiding in Melbourne."
"Could you rewind the teleprompter? I'm pretty sure it just said 'Get your shit and leave tonight.'"
Biggs then fled to Brazil, where he took audacity to whole new levels, doing things such as boarding a British Royal Navy ship to attend a cocktail party and hosting fundraising "fugitive barbecues" at his home in Rio, where he entertained paying tourists by regaling them with tales of his role in the Great Train Robbery. In 1980, Biggs recorded two songs for The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, a mockumentary about the Sex Pistols.
It takes a lot to make Sid Vicious' life choices seem sensible by comparison.
This kicked off Biggs' fugitive musical career, which included vocals on the song "Police on My Back" (which they were) with the German punk band Die Toten Hosen in 1991, three more songs for an Argentine punk band in 1993, and finally a 1997 collaboration with an American bass player on "Mailbag Blues," a musical narrative of Biggs' life (we're assuming the title song referred to the stolen mailbag full of $70 million).
If you're thinking that all of this was embarrassing for U.K. authorities, you are correct. In 1981, a team of British ex-soldiers kidnapped Biggs in Rio and attempted to haul him back to the U.K. on a ship but failed when the ship broke down off the coast of Barbados, drawing the attention of the coast guard. The Barbadian authorities weren't very sympathetic to the whole "We're just trying to bring a British fugitive to justice" cause (they saw it more as kidnapping), so Biggs was set free to return to Rio. The leader of the botched kidnapping operation would later hint that they'd been working under the direction of MI6, which actually sounds about right.
In 2001, Biggs was finally arrested in just about the only way he was likely ever going to be captured: by returning to the U.K. and surrendering, at the age of 69. He served a third of his 30-year prison sentence but was released early on compassionate grounds, despite being "wholly unrepentant."
"Robbed a train, got kidnapped, and became a punk icon. Time to throw a rude gesture and call this a life complete."
#5. Jean Claude Lacote Evades Police by Openly Becoming a TV Producer
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Jean Claude Lacote was charged with hustling $10 million from unwary Belgian citizens by way of an investment scheme. In addition to scamming investors, he most likely murdered one of them (a British man) in 1996 on top of it, but was released on bail without being charged for the murder due to lack of evidence. But Lacote knew that absence of evidence was not evidence of absence, so he quickly absented his ass from Belgium and fled to South Africa in 1999.
We're assuming that's where he got that kickass vest.
In Johannesburg, Lacote's idea of keeping a low profile involved producing a local reality TV show (a true crime series; truly, you can't make this stuff up) titled When Duty Calls.
It's a half-hour thrill ride of stock crime photography!
He did his hiding out in a mansion with his wife and a fleet of Ferraris, because the first thing you want to do when you're hiding out from the planet is put your name in the credits of a popular reality TV show and party it up in a high profile setup. Eventually, back in Belgium, the evidence that Lacote likely knew was out there turned up: In 2006, Belgian police found themselves with a solid case for Lacote as the murderer of the British investor, and Johannesburg police decided it was time to move in because, you know, harboring a fraudster is one thing, but a murderer is another.
After being arrested by South African authorities for having balls (as in parties, although it works the other way as well) in violation of several of Johannesburg's city ordinances, Lacote escaped from custody by arranging for two of his friends to show up at the jail wearing fake police uniforms and bearing counterfeit warrants to spring him from custody.
Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Is it still valid if the warrant is printed on the back of a Muffler King flyer?
Lacote is still on the run to this day and is one of Forbes' "World's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives," right up there with El Chapo Guzman. We're sure he's bound to stick his neck out again soon, probably producing a show called Getting Away With Murder.
#4. Embezzler Steals Big, Spends His Loot Buying Up the Country He Flees To
Kobi Alexander is the former CEO of Comverse Technology, a telecommunications company he started back in 1982 and which is still doing quite well for itself today. Back in 2006, the Department of Justice decided to let Alexander know that they were on to the fact that Comverse was always doing a little too well for its CEO, as it turned out that Alexander had been swindling investors out of tens of millions of dollars for years, to the eventual tune of $138 million. Charges were filed, and Alexander, instead of sticking around to do his white collar crime time, decided to take off, family in tow.
Presumably to one of the half dozen places left where he could still smoke indoors.
Edward Snowden has taught us that, when skipping the country to flee the authorities, it's very important to choose the right nation. Alexander picked Namibia, an African country best known for its lush, sprawling deserts. Why Namibia, you ask? In short, its lack of an extradition treaty with the U.S., and its susceptibility to being bought off. And buy off Namibia he did.
Alexander got the ball rolling right away by purchasing a mansion in Namibia for $500,000 U.S., which is worth a cool 5 million in Namibian bucks. This was to let Namibia know that he planned to stay a while. He then went straight to Namibian government leaders to tell them that he would be establishing an annual educational scholarship for Namibian grade school students, as well as commencing construction on a solar-powered housing project for 100 low-income Namibian families.
Alexander had the Namibian government at "Hello."
Seeing as how the U.S. will likely never manage to get Namibia to turn over Alexander, he has settled in and made himself quite comfortable, putting on several displays of incredible audacity, such as suing the company he founded (and robbed) for $72 million, claiming the company still owes him severance, bonuses, and back pay.
Then, just a few months later, Alexander flew 200 guests in from New York and Israel to attend the bar mitzvah of his son. The nation of Namibia had a rather meager Jewish population until the day of the bar mitzvah, when Alexander instantly tripled it with his Jewish guests, who partook of a four-day celebration that included a popular Israeli hip-hop artist and a Namibian pop star. What we're saying is that being a fugitive is slightly different for rich people.