6 Baffling Mistakes Criminals Apparently Make All the Time
About once a week you get a wacky "dumb criminal" story in the newspaper, like the guy who tries to rob a police station, or the dude who sticks up a bank and then boasts about it on his Twitter account. Either crime is apparently way harder than it looks, or else criminals are a whole lot stupider than we previously thought possible.
We're thinking it's the latter. Here are some seemingly easy rules that real criminals have failed to follow, often in spectacularly retarded ways.
Make Sure You Have the Proper Tools
The traditional approach to criminal weaponry is "keeping it simple." Guns, knives, a rabid weasel tied to a stick... anything will do as long as it conveys the message that you are not to be fucked with. If you don't own a gun or a knife, any number of objects can be used in their place. A South Carolina man had some success in stealing a laptop while making stabbing motions at store employees with a regular toothbrush; John Szwalla almost robbed a cafe with a banana in his pocket pretending to be a gun; and in 2007, one of the nerdiest kingpins of crime held-up a Food Mart with an old NES Zapper.
Didn't they notice that it wasn't plugged in?
There also exists, however, a group that rebels against the orthodox school of criminal thought. Not wanting the world of robbery to go stale, they came up with such innovations like threatening people at snakepoint, where real life snakes are used to intimidate the victims in lieu of broken beer bottles. But the undisputed king of nu-crime (which is less commercial and more original than mainstream crime), has to be the Colorado Springs mugger who in 2009, successfully robbed two convenience stores using a Star Trek bat'leth replica.
Pictured: A bat'leth with its typical user
There is an undeniable streak of genius in employing snakes or Star Trek props in your crimes, because sufficiently weird weapons like that will keep the victims from taking a good look at your face, making future identification very difficult indeed.
John Oldenburg, on the other hand, did not concern himself with such trifling things as the proper choice of criminal tools. When he went out to steal gas, all he ever used was his trusted personalized power-drill with "J. Oldenburg" etched into its body. Normally labeling your property is a good thing, but not when you are a gas thief and lose it during a job, leading the police straight to your apartment. Especially if that apartment doubles as the local meth lab.
Professor Moriarty, he is not.
Fight the Urge to Give Away Personal Information
No matter how badly you want to be recognized for your criminal achievements, not bragging about them is the basic requirement for avoiding a prison shank between the ribs in your immediate future.
The absolute worst you can do in terms of boastfulness is sharing every bit of info about yourself with the people you're planning to rob, as one New Zealand crook did. Approaching the cashier at a Sydenham music shop he requested a CD to be held for him, but when the employee's back turned he grabbed a handful of dollars from the register and sprinted away to spend it all on some slutty sheep... mere seconds after writing his personal information on the CD reservation form--information he didn't bother to falsify--leading to his arrest.
PS, thanks for the money, suckers!!!LOL!1
Aaron Evans is another cautionary tale against bragging. Evidently fearing that someone might take false credit for his illegal deeds, Evans had his full name and birth date tattooed on the back of his neck. This was a particularly poor decision considering he was a car thief from the UK--the place which treats Orwell's 1984 as a set of instructions concerning video surveillance. Thanks to the footage of his ink, Evans was sentenced to seven months after trying to steal a car in 2008.
Besides modesty, the other thing that might spare you the embarrassment of identifying yourself all over the target is "leaving your wallet at home when you go a-thieving." Let's learn from the Niagara Falls criminal who executed the classic "Grab n' Get the Fuck Out Of There" play at a Walgreens with a carton of smokes. He could have gotten away with it if not for one tinsy-winsy mistake: He left his driver's license with the clerk, who was checking his age. The arrest literally took minutes.
But absentmindedness is one thing, complete lack of understanding how personal identification works is another. Like with the West Virginia man who used his debit card at the store he then tried to rob. Piece of advice: If you think that signing the receipt "John Doe" will throw the cops off your trail, you probably deserve to go to prison.
Keep in Mind That There is a Time and a Place For Everything
You are a busy man. There are countless houses and people out there who won't just rob themselves. We get it. But that doesn't mean that you have to catch up on your daily activities while inside a victim's house. Nothing good will ever come out of it.
"No sense waiting to do my taxes."
One Pennsylvania burglar learned that the hard way. In 2009, Jonathan Parker broke into a Martinsburg home and stole two diamond rings, worth over $3,500. But instead of just leaving then and exchanging the jewelry for enough narcotics to make a chess match between two narcoleptic accountants seem exciting, Parker used the victim's computer to check his Facebook... forgetting to log out afterwards. So when the owner came back and went to her own FB account (because the first thing you want to do after being robbed is apparently post about it on your wall) she found Parker's profile who was then arrested.
To be fair, maybe Parker had some urgent strawberries to harvest on FarmVille. That would actually make his actions very understandable (if not completely forgivable), but it's a whole different story with the burglar who entered an Easton, PA house, cleaned it out and was later discovered by the owners cooking chicken in their kitchen. Dude, stop at a freaking KFC on the way home. Businesses like that exist for busy people just like yourself.
Still, coming home to a stranger eating your dinner can't be nearly half as insulting as finding some guy masturbating in your chair after having packed all of your stuff into a big bag marked "swag." Luckily, only a certain New Orleans homeowner knows what that's like, after catching Richard Barnes red(rocket)-handed, rubbing one off to online porn on her computer. Unluckily for Barnes, real life is nothing like the porn flicks he loves so much, so instead of offering to "help [him] with that" the lady called the police.
Choose Your Targets Wisely
On one end of the "Wrong Fucking Place to Rob" scale we have a Colombian robber who tried to hold up a karate school. It sounds like a scene from a Police Academy sequel but it actually happened and as you'd expect, the students karate'd the shit out of him. Same for the suicidal criminal from Pennsylvania who decided to help himself to the wallet of a retired police officer... during a 300-guest police convention. To his credit though, he almost made it into a taxi before a dozen burly cops relived their high school football days directly atop his spine.
Sadly, failure to properly evaluate the risk/gain ratio of your target can have less hilarious consequences, like with David Zaback who, in 1990, tried to rob a gun store near Seattle, with a uniformed police officer standing by the counter. Zaback's poor mathematics cost him 23 new breathing holes through the torso.
On the other, sadder end of that spectrum you have criminals who go for the low-risk, low-reward angle. You know, like the 45-year-old bank cashier from Germany who risked and lost her entire career by pilfering children's piggybank accounts. While the possibility of getting a spiked hammer to the genitals as retribution is significantly low if you steal from kids, the most you will get out of them is apparently $75. Hardly worth losing $3,000 in fines and any ability to find employment in the non-whoring sector of the job market.
Don't let this pig control your fate.
Then again, it might be a welcomed alternative to the years of unpaid sexual encounters that await the criminals who were arrested after robbing 1) a Burger King and 2) an Amish buggy--making off with 1) a BK cap/jacket combo plus some invisible tape, and 2) a tobacco stuffed pipe. It would seem the low security on those places wasn't just a clever ruse to protect their priceless hidden treasures.
Nonetheless, the Burger King demands you pay in blood.
Be Wary of Strangers Offering you Money/Drugs
Nowadays, even the family dog has a cell phone, making the device common loot in many criminal endeavors. This subsequently gives your victims a chance to contact their robber, but such communication should only be used to taunt them with graphic description of all the prostitute-related activities you will engage in after pawning their stuff, and nothing else.
A typically observed error is trying to get more money out of the people you've already robbed. Joshua Taneal Curry from Florida made that mistake when in 2009, he stole someone's cell and demanded $240 for its return. Perhaps he was hoping to then steal it again and repeat the cycle, creating a never-ending loop of thievery that would earn him "infinity dollars." Unsurprisingly though, when Curry showed up at the designated place to collect the money he was immediately arrested/laughed at by the police.
"So, uh... when am I going to get paid?"
Not pushing your luck can save a responsible criminal a lot of grievance. It certainly would have helped the three Ohio carjackers who--obviously on an intense post-crime high after stealing a BMW--did not question a text message they got on their victim's phone. The message supposedly reminded the owner of the car about all the hot bitches and drugs waiting for him at a certain location, and since the carjackers now owned the guy's property, they felt entitled to a piece of that action. But how often does life really throw free drugs/chicks your way? Three to four times at most. But that time wasn't one of them, so the only thing that awaited the criminals in the stolen car was a squadron of pity-smiling police officers.
It might seem unfair, but civilians are allowed to play dirty even when you're the supposed bad guy, so it never hurts to always be skeptical. Like, when a stranger calls up your stolen cell offering to sell you illegal firearms, it's a good idea to be suspicious about his intentions, unlike James Smith, who must have thought it was just his lucky day. Smith's arrest was as fast as it was hilarious when he agreed to meet this new supplier, aka the phone owner's boyfriend.
Cover Your Tracks
Our studies show that the leading cause of arrests in America is "getting caught" which in itself is most often the result of the authorities discovering where you live. A number of things can be done to prevent that.
There's a return address on the back of this stupid riddle.
As a career criminal not wanting to get caught, the first thing you may want to avoid is bringing cornflakes with you on a job. Amber McCarthy from East Sussex got into some cereal trouble (get it??) after lifting some money from a florist's till and accidentally breaking a bag of cornflakes she had on her. The trail of cereal led straight to her apartment and a three-year supervision sentence.
This time a fake cock was used to fight crime.
The second thing you should do is take the weather into consideration. If it's been snowing in the area, a smart criminal will employ snowshoes or a flock of trained eagles that will carry him above the ground to avoid leaving painfully obvious footsteps in the snow. Unlike Rashaun Preston, a not smart criminal who, in 2007, robbed his employers and left a deep, visible trail leading from the scene of the crime straight to his apartment--like some lovably inept cartoon badguy.
Then again, maybe it was Preston's first time and he got caught up in the heat of the moment that is crime, forgetting to clean up afterward? Maybe... but that definitely wasn't the case with a pair of Arkansas robbers who, in 2008, stole a liquor store soda vending machine using an industrial dolly. The dolly points to at least some level of premeditation and planning, but the criminals were discovered nonetheless after their exceptionally heavy machinery left deep tracks more than a mile long ending at their front yard. Based on the fact that they didn't go for the store's booze or the money, we are left to conclude that their slight miscalculation was already the result of alcohol or them being from Arkansas.
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And check out what kinds of mistakes fictional criminals keep making, in 6 Baffling Mistakes Every Movie Criminal Makes. Or find out about some fearsome crooks with hearts of gold, in 5 Inspiring Acts of Kindness by Terrifying Crime Syndicates.
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