The 6 Worst Hiding Places in the History of Crime
We have to admit: We love us a good "dumb criminal" story. It's reassuring to know that the people who would do us harm are less "evil genius" and more "kid who always lost at hide-and-seek because he hid behind a tree that wasn't quite wide enough to cover him."
So let's take a moment to celebrate the bad guys who tried to escape capture while ...
Disguised as a Hill
The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Oregon contains, as the name so aptly suggests, lots of rocks and minerals. Oh, and "a gold specimen bigger than your hand," which made the museum particularly interesting to alleged thief Gregory Liascos, who decided to pay it an after-hours visit to get a bit more up close and personal with that exhibit.
"Selling it should net me just enough money to repair the damage smuggling it does to my rectum."
Liascos' master plan was to pull a reverse Shawshank Redemption and gradually chip a hole through the wall of the museum to get to all the shiny stuff inside. It might have worked out OK if he hadn't forgotten his DustBuster, but as it so happened, the museum's caretaker noticed an unusual amount of dust buildup over a period of several days. Following the dust trail to an elevator shaft behind the toilets, he then discovered a suspicious lack of wall.
And a sad little drawing of Liascos having sex with Angelina Jolie.
The caretaker urged the police to set up surveillance equipment at the museum, and when the alarms went off the next day, they stormed the museum, finding a bike, a backpack and absolutely no sign of the would-be gold thief. But luckily, the police had brought along a tracking dog. The dog led its handlers to a wooded area near the museum, where it suddenly lost its shit and started biting the ground. Even weirder, the ground started squealing in pain.
Once the officers had assured each other that no one was having a bad trip, they did a closer inspection and found that what the dog was biting wasn't the ground at all, but the illegitimate love child of Chewbacca and Swamp Thing.
"Arrrrrrr-ghghghghgh!" (Hey, let's see you try to spell the sound Chewbacca makes.)
Actually, it was Liascos, wearing an outfit that would later earn him the nickname "Moss Man." Officially, it's called a ghillie suit -- the type of camouflage that snipers use to blend into the foliage when shooting from grassy knolls. He hadn't yet stolen anything at the moment he was caught, perhaps because he realized the grass suit wasn't a great means of disguising himself once he was inside a rock and mineral museum (dressing up as the Thing from The Fantastic Four would seem like a better choice).
Albeit not the subtle choice.
Of course Liascos denied the whole thing, claiming that he was just trying out a Halloween costume that his kids had given him. Then he promptly went on the lam and is still out there somewhere, presumably pretending to be someone's backyard.
Inside an Express Handling Box
Baggage handlers at London's Heathrow Airport were having your average baggage handler day -- taking turns dropping cargo and administering savage beatings to it -- when suddenly something not-so-average happened. While following their baggage handler employment manual to a "T," they dropped an especially heavy express handling box while unloading it from the plane. The box cracked open and out popped a bleeding man, who took off running across the tarmac and escaped.
"Damn. Maybe if we seal it back up no one will notice."
You have to hand it to him; Rawson Watson's plan was fairly ingenious. He had two crates specially made so that he could assemble them while en route in the plane's cargo area -- one for him and one for the over $2 million in Spanish pesetas that he planned to swipe from the plane's cargo.
He had sneaked into the cargo area without much difficulty, but once there his plan went sour when he realized that he wouldn't be able to reseal the cash containers holding the stolen pesetas to cover up his tampering. Abandoning Plan A, he threw one of the cash containers (holding about $320,000) into the smaller box, sealed himself up inside the larger one and settled in for the ride.
"Yeah, I know that box, intimately. Bitch never called me back."
He was all set for a smaller-than-planned payday, until those meddling baggage handlers interfered and he had to run away completely empty-handed. Even worse, he cut his finger on the crate, leaving behind a nice big dollop of DNA evidence that allowed police to arrest him for the crime nearly three years later.
After his arrest, Watson pulled a page directly from our middle school survival playbook as his defense: You see, he couldn't have committed the crime because he'd been in Africa at the time, having a "holiday romance" with a woman you totally wouldn't know (because she's in Africa) and whose number (as well as any holiday photos) he had totally lost.
"Of course I know what sex is. We did nose to belly button quite a few times."
We would applaud the man's creativity, but Watson wasn't the only criminal to have the bright idea of stashing himself away inside of a cargo hold. It turns out thieves have also been known to wind up ...
Stuffed into a Suitcase
After a string of reports of items mysteriously disappearing from the cargo bay of a Barcelona airport bus, the sight of a man struggling to load an unusually heavy suitcase into a bus struck an employee as a strange enough occurrence to warrant calling the police.
When the authorities arrived, they discovered that there was indeed something strange about the suitcase: It was warm to the touch and soaked with sweat. Either someone was hiding inside the bag, or they had just stumbled upon the world's first leftover-meatloaf smuggling ring.
Why can't it ever be both?
They opened the suitcase to find a Polish man curled up "like a contortionist" and making the world's most pathetic attempt to look all innocent. When questioned, he claimed to have been too broke to afford the fare.
"Yes, this costume was necessary."
The cops thought it was unusual for a man short on change to be wearing a head lamp and carrying a special tool for opening zippers and locks, as well as a bag of stolen valuables, so they brought him and his strong-backed accomplice in for theft and criminal misuse of a circus routine.
Officers described the smell of the sweat-crusted luggage as "Lovecraftian."
When asked about the crime, a police spokesman said, "I believe this is what the British call an open-and-shut case," before whipping on his sunglasses as Roger Daltrey screamed in the background.
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.
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 ...
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.