6 Perfect Crimes That Got Foiled By Stupid Accidents
Some high-stakes heists involve rappelling into a bank vault to steal a priceless tiara from a cruel duchess. Sometimes those plans succeed against all odds. Other times, the most genius criminal plots are foiled by coincidence, bad luck, or plain old slapstick hijinks. Like when ...
A 10-Million-Pound Heist Was Foiled By Inconsiderate Parking
In February 2000, in a busy area of South London, three trucks roared to life and shot across a road, boxing in an armored car containing 10 million pounds in cash. Armed men jumped out and secured the area, hopefully accompanied by a pulsing guitar soundtrack. Then they went to get their secret weapon: a fourth truck, loaded with Christmas trees. Beneath the protruding trees was a huge steel spike welded to the chassis. The thieves planned to use the spike-truck as a monstrous battering ram to break into the armored van. It was the best use of Christmas trees as weapons since Deck The Halls
But don't call Michael Mann just yet (or do, maybe he's lonely). The thieves had left the spike-truck alone on the road while they secured the armored car, blocking the vehicle of a clueless local commuter who chose that exact moment to go to work. Enraged that some Christmas tree delivery guys were boxing him in -- in February -- he reached through the open window and took the keys out of their ignition.
Unable to start the spike-truck, the thieves set it on fire and escaped in a speedboat, because apparently England is exactly the way it's depicted in Bond movies. Still, police tracked them down and put the gang under surveillance, which revealed that they were planning an even more audacious heist: using a modified backhoe to smash their way into the De Beers diamond exhibition at London's Millennium Dome, stealing a cache which included the famed Millennium Star diamond, and covering their escape (again, via speedboat) with smoke bombs.
The plan had a chance to succeed. Regular security at the Dome consisted of some elderly guards and one teenager, who were surely an interesting team in their own right. But thanks to the surveillance, the Dome was full of 200 undercover police officers, and the gems had been replaced with decoy fakes, allowing the frankly over-dramatic thieves to be arrested with ease.
A Hollywood-Style Heist Failed Because Of A Tiny Mistake On A Bank Form
The Sumitomo Mitsui job was like a greatest hits compilation of British crime movies. No, really: The plan was developed by a gangster turned self-styled British aristocrat, as well as a cockney crime lord operating out of a London sex shop, and those are literally the villains from Layer Cake and Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels.
Their plan involved an inside man in the bank's security team, who disabled security cameras and smuggled in a team of crack Belgian hackers, all while telling co-workers he was organizing a late-night poker game. Once inside, the hackers installed keylogging software, which recorded account details and passwords. A few days later, they went back in and transferred 229 million pounds to a series of shell accounts around the world, which would have been the biggest heist in British history. After probably standing in front of the Bellagio fountains for a bit, everyone involved made a clean getaway and waited for the money to roll in.
To the thieves' shock, the money never came through, for reasons that should be familiar to anyone who has ever used a bank. It turned out that the hackers had made a tiny error in a single field on the electronic transfer forms. The form was so confusing that they couldn't even work out where the problem was. Over the next two days, they made 21 increasingly frantic attempts to transfer the money, all of which failed due to that one little mistake. That seemed kind of weird to the bank's employees, and long story short, everyone involved was arrested.
An Elaborate Art Heist Was Derailed By A Flat Tire
The 1991 Van Gogh Museum heist should have been one of the greatest in history. The thieves installed one of their own as a security guard, who allowed another to hide in a bathroom stall after the museum closed. After crouching on a toilet until 3 a.m., the thief emerged waving a gun and took the whole security team hostage, which is a good robbery plan and an even better Dulcolax commercial.
After letting yet another accomplice inside, the thieves disabled the infrared security system and carefully removed 20 pre-selected Van Gogh paintings, including the famous Potato Eaters. They loaded the paintings into a guard's car and sped off to rendezvous with their getaway driver. The plan was to transfer the paintings and vanish into the night to do whatever it is you do with a priceless stolen cultural artifact as gross and ugly as The Potato Eaters.
What could go wrong with such a brilliant plan? The getaway car blew a tire on the way to the meeting point and never showed up. After waiting around, the nervous thieves fled on foot, abandoning the paintings ... because walking around with them would, at the very least, give passersby the impression that they were the kind of weirdos who buy art. Cops found the car and recovered the paintings 35 minutes after they were stolen. A heist for the books, foiled in less time than it takes to watch an episode of The Walking Dead.
A Dramatic Midair Heist Failed Because Airport Workers Didn't Handle Luggage With Care
On the grand pyramid of cool heists, the midair heist is pretty much right at the top, behind only "underwater," "shrink ray," and "space." But when some London thieves learned that a British Airways flight would be transporting millions in cash, they launched a plan so daring that the prosecutor even had to beg the jury not to "become distracted with admiration" for the "bold and daring ... James Bond adventure."
It all started when inside men allowed gang member Rawson Watson (yes, that's his name) to sneak into the cargo hold of the Boeing 767 at London's Heathrow Airport. Watson then cut a hole in the lining of the hold, climbed inside, and taped it shut behind him. He hid there while the plane flew to Madrid, where it was loaded with 1.5 million pounds' worth of Spanish pesetas for transport back to London. Once the plane had taken off again, Watson emerged from hiding.
Here's where it gets clever: Watson assembled two flat-pack crates he had been keeping in the lining with him, then hid the money (and himself) inside them. The plan was for baggage handlers to unload the crates, which would be delivered to Watson's accomplices. They would be long gone by the time the real money container reached its destination and was revealed to be empty, leaving its intended recipient to let out a Vaderian "Noooo!"
But, as always, something went wrong: Some clumsy baggage handlers at Heathrow dropped Watson's crate, which promptly broke apart, revealing Watson ... and millions of pesetas. The thief scrambled to his feet and ran for it, although he found time to politely assure the startled handlers, "Don't worry about me, I'll be alright." In the carefree days before 9/11, he was able to make it out of the airport. He was only caught three years later, when the police arrested him for drunk driving and found that his DNA was a match for some blood left in the ruins of his crate. There's a lesson here, kids: Don't drink and drive.
The Million-Dollar Fajita Black Market Was Foiled By A Single Sick Day
In 2017, Gilberto Escamilla was arrested for stealing fajitas from work. It happens to the best of us. But Escamilla wasn't some disgruntled busboy sticking it to Applebee's one beefy tortilla at a time. He was a civil servant who snaked a truly staggering $1.2 million in fajitas from the Juvenile Justice Department in Cameron County, Texas. And the best part? The Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department didn't even serve fajitas.
How did Escamilla pull off such a daring scheme? A special fajita tunnel? Condoms and a spice-proof rectum? Actually, he used his job with the department to order the fajitas, which were delivered to his facility. He would then accept the delivery and take them straight back out to his prearranged customers, all of them presumably unaware they were about to serve up illegal meat.
He kept this up for nine years, which is a long time for the government to pay for illicit black market fajitas -- which, again, were seriously a thing. But the Tex-Mex bandit finally slipped up when he decided to take a sick day to go to a doctor. Of course one of his secret deliveries just had to show up that day. Escamilla's confused co-workers insisted that nobody had ordered 800 pounds of fajita packets for a jail with fewer than 100 inmates, and the equally confused driver insisted that he had been delivering fajitas to that address for nine years. The one thing everyone could agree on was this was a very weird point for alternate universes to intersect.
After contemplating the nature of parallel dimensions for a while, the Juvenile Justice Department realized that either Escamilla had a really serious eating disorder, or something shady was going on. After the cops searched his house and found fajitas in the fridge (a suspicious and delicious discovery), Escamilla was arrested on charges of grand theft. Hopefully his prison ordered fajitas in his honor.
The Carder Kingpin Who Was Caught Because Of Half-Life 2
Max Butler, a hacker known as "Iceman," ran the biggest credit card theft ring ever. He unified many of the underground carder forums and markets in the world. Butler had it all going for him: military-grade encryption, a brilliant mind, and associates laundering the constant, massive stream of money they were making. But he was done with all that. Max was ready to retire and live a simple life with his girlfriend, a woman presumably unaware that she was sleeping with a person who called himself "Iceman."
But there was a glitch. Jonathan Giannone, a 21-year-old who had worked with Butler, was caught in 2006 for selling card dumps. After he was found guilty, Giannone spilled the beans on Iceman. His undoing turned out to be a private conversation with Giannone in which the master hacker told the young man about a time he had been a suspect in an investigation about the hacking of the source code of Half-Life 2. Only two people from the U.S. popped up when searching the incident on the FBI's database. Max Butler was one. The rest played out like the end of The Wolf Of Wall Street, except instead of a few months playing tennis, Butler was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison.
1 and 3.
1 x 3 = 3.
Half-Life 3 confirmed.
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