The 20 Most Secretly Brilliant Stupid Criminals

#1. Germans Pull a Fast One with Hostages

June, 1995. Four masked men burst into a Berlin bank with pistols and shotguns, and took 16 hostages. A half an hour later, they sent one hostage out with a typewritten note: They wanted a getaway car, a helicopter and 17 million Deutsche Marks (about $12.2 million in 1995 dollars). After negotiations, 5 million marks were delivered at 9:30 p.m. as a down payment. Then? Nothing.

The robbers fell silent, which was fortunate because it gave the cops time to laugh about how easy it was going to be to track them down in a helicopter and getaway car that they were providing. But as the hours went by, the tension began to mount. Had they gone to sleep? Had they finally watched the last 15 minutes of Die Hard and realized that Hans' brilliant robbery via hostage taking hadn't turned out so well? At 4 a.m., the tension was broken by a phone call from inside the bank. But it wasn't the robber. It was one of the hostages, saying he was pretty sure the robbers had disappeared.

The cops knew damn well that this might be a set up, and assembled a commando team that heroically burst in, heroically surveyed the now-empty room and heroically uttered, "Oh, fuck me."

The Secretly Brilliant:

Turns out the robbers weren't counting on that getaway car and helicopter they demanded. Instead, they dug a 384-foot tunnel to the vault, ransacked it and had split hours earlier.

Just to add insult to injury, when the police followed the tunnel, they found it ended in a garage ... inside the area the police had cordoned off, where they were examining every vehicle coming and going.

All told, around 12 million marks (approximately $10 million U.S.) was stolen. Nobody knows for sure because the thieves raided safety deposit boxes, so authorities remain uncertain about the contents, which could have been anything from jewels to the much more precious and rare nude photos of Bea Arthur.


"Wait, you want what?" -- Cracked Photoshop Department.

All the men involved were eventually captured and convicted, although most of the money has never been recovered and most of the criminals involved are already out of jail. Somehow, we suspect that money's going to magically turn up at whatever tropical island nation doesn't have an extradition treaty with Germany.

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