Despite TV and Hollywood constantly insisting otherwise, thieves are usually not difficult to figure out. They're after something, whether it be money, fame, revenge, money, anger, money, or possibly money. And the thing they steal is often easy to grab -- jewels, cash, unlocked cars.
But some thieves like to take the road less traveled, pulling off daring heists for items like ...
In 2011, a truck full of tainted tampons (stock that failed safety inspection due to contamination) were being shipped to an incinerator in Oklahoma. And somewhere, a crack team of thieves heard about this and said, "Gentlemen, this has the potential to be the heist of the century."
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"Step one: repeated viewings of Ocean's 11, Heat, The Italian Job, and A Fish Called Wanda."
Their operation was a success: They made off with thousands of cases of the defective tampons without a hitch (shockingly, they apparently were not well-guarded), at which point we assume thieves in black turtlenecks stood around a mountain of Kotex and said, "Well, what now? Maybe play a practical joke on Steve by using them to soak up his swimming pool?"
Instead, the perps did what in a sane world should absolutely not be possible: They sold the tampons to retail stores, who happily took them and passed them on to customers. Yes, retailers are seemingly fine with selling feminine products that they bought from shady dudes out of the back of a van. But really, how could that ever go wrong? Oh, right, they were tainted. Considering where tampons ultimately end up, it's understandable that each one needs to be absolutely perfect. These 16,500 cases had tested positive for bacteria, metal, imperfect raw materials, and other assorted ickiness that most women probably don't want to deal with during that part of the month.
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Somewhere, there is a person who does nothing but test tampons all day.
It is the type of crime you can get away with, however -- the thieves were never caught. As for the toxic tampons, 7,500 boxes were recovered, but they have no idea how many are still unaccounted for. Maybe one of the dudes has them all piled up in his apartment somewhere. Probably makes for great conversation on poker night.
Back in June of 2012, a high-end luxury sex shop, unimaginatively named the Erotika Luxo, was robbed at gunpoint. The crook was seemingly dead serious about pilfering the place, even tying up the sole clerk on duty so the two wouldn't get in each other's way. He had literally an entire store at his disposal, with a highly valuable inventory, not to mention a cash register full of dirty, dirty Brazilian sex money.
But it was all apparently a heist to steal a golden vibrator. Because that's all he took -- he went right for the vibrator and went home. Now, to be fair, it's not like he grabbed a cheap-ass $10 bullet any horny moron can buy online. No, this was an 18-carat, gold-plated vibrator worth over $4,000. That's a decent day's work, right?
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Only 19 vibrators away from a Corvette!
Well ... not really. Once again, what exactly does he plan to do with it?
According to the store's owner, the vibrator itself is made of stainless steel, which makes removal of the gold plating, the only truly valuable part, extremely difficult. So if this guy actually planned to sell the gold, he's likely shit out of luck. Is he going to sell it at a pawn shop? Because this story made the news -- we have a feeling that "No, this is a different golden vibrator!" won't hold up as a cover story. But even if he found a shady store that wasn't worried about the cops claiming it as stolen goods, what kind of pawn shop is going to think they can move a used vibrator? Gold or not, who the hell would even be willing to touch the thing?
"This will go great with the tampons!"
Maybe he just wanted it for, you know, personal use. But the guy neglected to steal the charger, aka the thing that makes a vibrator vibrate. Yet despite all that, we still want to see Hollywood turn this into a movie. Feel free to suggest titles in the comments.
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In 2012, workers at the Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers discovered that some of the syrup had disappeared, having been sneakily replaced in the containers by tap water.
Six million fucking gallons of it.
Something like this.
And where we sarcastically referred to the tampon theft as a "heist," this one was a classic Ocean's 11-style operation: Thieves had rented out space in the same warehouse where the syrup was stored, then slowly emptied the barrels over months, replacing the volume with water, unnoticed. Why the hell were they doing that? Did they have a stadium-sized stack of pancakes to cover?
No, it turns out there is a hugely profitable underground maple syrup market. If you don't understand how anybody can make money off that since, you know, it's just a condiment and not crude oil, you apparently don't realize how expensive the real stuff is (most of the "syrup" we buy is just cheap sugar water with caramel coloring). The value of the stolen syrup clocked in at $18 million.
Even more once they've cut it with some Aunt Jemima.
Once you realize how valuable this sticky gold is, you also begin to understand why "the Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers" is a real thing. The FQMSP (pronounced "fook-muh-sip" by people who enjoy being punched in the face) controls over 77 percent of the world's syrup and stores much of it in gigantic warehouses for those lean times when the maple trees are being stubborn as hell and won't give up their precious cargo.
Not that any of this was reason enough for them to, you know, guard it or anything. They are, after all, Canadian.
If you were stopped at an intersection and suddenly saw some dudes run out, pry up the manhole cover from the street, and take off with it, you'd think you were watching some fraternity prank or somebody's wacky scavenger hunt. The thieves have now created a deadly trap door in the street, and for what? What the hell are you going to do with an iron disk that probably takes two people to carry? Well, this is an incredibly common crime.
There have been over 10,000 confirmed cases of theft in Calcutta, 900 in Birmingham, U.K., 30 in North Carolina, and 166 in Florida (a feat pulled off by exactly one man). Why are they doing it? The obvious answer is they're selling them for scrap, but is there honestly no easier sources of iron laying around? It's not gold, they make all sorts of random shit out of it.
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Yeah, stuff like irons and, uh ... hmm ...
Remember that standard manhole covers weigh more than 100 pounds and are difficult to pry loose -- they're made to be that heavy specifically so they can't be moved. In the case of Calcutta, where over 10,000 covers have vanished, those things are made of freaking concrete (they're busting them apart to get the iron rods out of the middle). But at least with that example, the thieves can claim they found the iron rods laying around or something. What possible story are the other manhole cover thieves telling to the scrap metal dealers?
Keep in mind, one thief walked into a recycling center with over 150 sewer covers from the same county the recycling center was in. Is scrap metal just a "don't ask, don't tell" type operation? "Yes, these are, uh, coins from my homeland. They're all giants there. As you can see, these bear the name of our emperor, 'Polk Co. Sewer Dept.'"
"Just put them with all the Route 69 signs people keep 'finding.'"
In late 2012, a truck containing 40,000 pounds of material was bound for Texas, but never reached its destination. Several days later, another truck containing the exact same amount was bound for Miami, and it too went missing. Both trucks originated from the same California location, which means whoever did this went back to the scene of the crime and did it again. The perpetrator has not yet been found.
But our Cracked composite sketch artist believes they'd look something like this.
At face value, this sounds like something straight out a Hollywood blockbuster: an imposing, 6'2" supervillain (with an equally imposing Russian accent, no less) arrives at a storage facility, steals valuable products worth over $300,000, and disappears into the night, evading law enforcement to this very day. The difference is that the target here was 300 grand in fucking walnuts.
And it turns out that stealing a fortune in nuts isn't that hard, either. The guy drove up in a semi, said he was there to pick up the walnuts, and they were like, "Sure!" and loaded them up. Then he drove off. Boy, we bet the guys at the storage facility felt like fools when they realized they'd just fallen for the oldest trick in the nut-stealing book. Or not, because later the guy came back and did the same thing again. He had obtained the the proper purchase numbers somehow, so they handed them over.
"Where in the world are you going to get a counterfeit walnut shipping invoice?"
"I've got a guy."
And not only has the guy never been found, but neither were the nuts. No stores have confessed to buying stock off the guy, so either they're lying, or this guy is sitting in his office right now, surrounded by 80,000 pounds of goddamned walnuts, desperately searching through cookbook after cookbook for good recipes. That, or he just wanted to fill his house with nuts and go swimming naked through them. It's 40 tons of walnuts, what can't you do?
Related Reading: For more of the unsolved-est crimes in history, give this link a click. You'll learn the terrifying tale of all the severed feet washing up in British Columbia. For some unsolved mysteries with really obvious solutions, click this link and go to town. Follow up with ten more unsolved crimes explained by science, like the sailing stones of Death Valley that move of their own accord.