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If you remove the license plates from your car, that's probably because you're a criminal and don't want to be tracked. It's a brilliant move ... except for the small fact that driving around with no plates might be the very thing that gets the police looking at you.

On June 28, 1993, at about 3am, officers outside Manhattan spotted a pickup truck with no plates. On the bumper was just a sticker with the message "sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me"—probably a harmless sex joke that meant nothing. 

The state troopers tried to pull the truck over, but it kept on going. They chased it for 20 minutes at low speeds, a chase that only ended when the truck smacked into an electrical pole that just so happened to be right in front of a courthouse. 

The driver, one Joel Rifkin, was uninjured by the crash, so the next order of business was to search the vehicle. In the truck's bed, under a tarp, was a body. It was not someone who had died recently. The corpse had decayed so much that the officers were unable to specify the victim's skin color in their report. 

Joel Rifkin stayed calm during the arrest. He was far too comfortable with death, concluded the cops. So when they brought him to headquarters and interrogated him, they demanded answers about all the other victims they assumed he'd killed. The hunch was correct: Rifkin had killed at least nine people, maybe as many as 17. He's still in prison today, because the driver the cops stopped that day ("Joel The Ripper") ended up sentenced to at least 203 years. 

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For more on criminals getting caught, check out:

Genius Police Work That Caught Criminals Red-Handed

5 Real Criminals Betrayed by Their Own Big Mouths

5 Criminals With The Worst Luck In The Entire World

Top image: Sebastiaan Stam/Unsplash

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