The 7 Most Gloriously Stupid Crimes Ever Attempted
The world is fascinated by crime and the people who commit it. Way too much of our fiction, television, and cinema is about crime and how it's waged or fought, to the point that basically every person alive is an expert on police work, forensics, and criminal enterprise. In fact, deep down, every single one of us is pretty confident that we could get away with a crime if we had to.
This counts, although technically the real criminal was whoever gave the baby candy in the first place.
Crime seems so easy! A plan and a ski mask; what more do you need? Henry Hill wasn't wrong when he explained in Goodfellas, "Nobody goes to jail unless they want to. Unless they make themselves get caught."
Is that really the only thing keeping the police in business? Are there actually criminals who want to be caught?
Yes. Yes there are. Here are seven of them.
The Man Who Tried to Cash a Check for $360 Billion
"One last big score" is a common trope in crime movies. A criminal who's tired of the game, but knows no other way of life. He has no appetite to make it on his own in the real, honest world. And so he pulls one last job with a payoff big enough to set himself up for life so he doesn't have to become, like, a fish salesman, or whatever people in the real world do.
Which brings us to Charles Ray Fuller, whose "last big score" was also apparently his "first, clumsy score," kind of the premature ejaculation of bank fraud. One bright spring day, Fuller decided to walk into his local bank and attempt to cash a check for $360 billion.
"Is it hot in here? It feels hot in here. Can someone please open a godforsaken window in here?"
The bank, curiously, suspected something was up and notified the police. But that's not the interesting part of this story. The interesting part is what was going through this guy's head when he walked into that bank? Did he think this small bank had $360 billion in cash on hand? Did he really understand how much money that actually was? He could have tipped the entire planet into recession if he'd pulled this off. But of course the answer is that nothing was going through his head when he tried this. By even daring to consider this stunt, our man Fuller demonstrated a pretty horrendous lack of understanding about how checks, banking, and possibly zeros work.
"Those are zeros? I thought those were little assholes."
The Shotgun Landscaper
This story is very close to being heartwarming, unlike some of the other items on this list. This isn't a crime of intent. This man wanted to do a nice thing -- to go get a sprig of mistletoe to decorate his house for the holidays. And although cynicism rules the day on the Internet, we should generally applaud and celebrate people who try to do nice things.
Except when they do those nice things with shotguns. We should applaud, yes, because niceeeeeee. But it is also our duty to mock those people.
People like Bill Robinson, who used his shotgun (which is not known as "the scalpel of the firearms world") to shoot a sprig of mistletoe down from a tree in a mall parking lot. This attracted the attention of the local constabulary, who we like to think had to scour their police code book for quite a while to come up with the right way to call this one in.
"We got a uh ... 2 ... 4 ... tree? Landscaping with a deadly weapon. Send ... an arborist, I guess?"
In Robinson's defense, he was kind of doing this off to the side of the mall parking lot and not, you know, by the little coin-operated spaceship that kids ride. And the thing was just loaded with bird shot, which wasn't going to do a ton of damage if it missed. And he didn't miss! He got that goddamned tree on the first try!
In his offense, he fired a shotgun in a mall parking lot.
That was kind of enough for the courts, it turned out.
The Drug Telemarketer
The Wire showed us that selling drugs can be a very complicated business, and that those who do it successfully operate with a very high degree of professionalism. Even at the street level, there are processes and procedures related to money handling and drug hand-offs that have to be strictly adhered to to limit exposure to rivals and police surveillance.
An example of one of those procedures: Don't call someone on the phone and offer to sell them drugs. That's called a narco no-no. And if you forget that because of some catastrophic head injury you've recently suffered, at least remember that if you call someone to sell them drugs and the person replies that you got the wrong number, do not offer to sell that person drugs.
For one thing, it's just rude. You could have interrupted that person's dinner.
Which is exactly what a teenage boy in Florida didn't remember when his wrong number connected him purely by chance to a police officer, whom he promptly attempted to sell drugs to.
Never interrupt a cop's dinner.
The police officer, to his credit, said "Sure," instead of laughing for 40 seconds, and shortly thereafter set up what must have been the world's easiest sting.
We kind of hope that to avoid getting up, he set the buy to go down on his own couch.
The Pornography Inspector
People who work in the retail and service sectors don't get a ton of respect. Which isn't really fair; although these are often entry level jobs, companies don't give control of their cash and inventory to just anyone. These positions require a fairly high level of responsibility and aren't staffed by complete idiots.
So a scheme that requires a video store clerk to have gerbil-like levels of cognition and savvy isn't likely to succeed, as Andrew Libby discovered in 2008 when he walked -- no, let's say sauntered -- into a video store and claimed that he worked for the state's "Age Verification Unit" and would need copies of pornography tapes to verify that the performers were of legal age. He even had a badge with him.
This, surprisingly, didn't work. And if Libby had walked away then, this would have gone down as little more than an amusing story that the store clerk shared with his friends. Except Libby came back. Two more times. Both times with the exact same story, delivered in what we hope was an increasingly pleading tone. At that point the video store employees apparently approached the police with surveillance footage of the mastermind at work. A brief survey of the local underworld later ...
"A slope-browed, ponytailed idiot? That's Andrew. You're looking for Andrew."
... the police had their slope-browed, ponytailed man.
The Man Who Robbed a Taekwondo Master in a Taekwondo Studio
Reconnaissance is an important part of the criminal process, necessary for the professional criminal to understand all the details in advance of his upcoming caper.
So ... is everything painted blue then?
The importance of preparation is made clear by examples of criminals who were a bit less organized in their caper planning.
Like the case of this future Moriarty, who attempted to burglarize a taekwondo studio. With a taekwondo master inside of it. Who was practicing taekwondo, interestingly enough.
And instead of being prepared for this, like with a platoon of ninjas at his back, or even just a couple of smoke bombs, our hapless criminal set his plan into motion armed only with his own frail neck. A weapon that the previously discussed taekwondo master easily neutralized with his previously discussed mastery of taekwondo.
Suggesting that our robber also forgot his Wu-Tang.
The Photobombing Bandit
Snatching purses isn't a complicated crime. It takes longer to say than it does to do, and with even the simplest precautions, like wearing fast shoes, it's pretty straightforward to get away with. It's made even easier when only unattended bags are stolen.
Aside from the ever-present risk that you just scooped up a terrorist device.
In general, then, purse snatching is all about choosing the right target. Like, just for example, a target who isn't pointing a camera at you as you steal their bag.
Which is exactly what one particular genius neglected to do when he was caught photobombing the victims of his bag thievery. The victims, a nice enough seeming family who maybe should be a little more careful of where they set their bags down when there are people with jean shorts in the area, were taking selfies on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol building when their bag went missing. A quick review of their camera revealed that they had captured an incriminating (and highly unflattering) image of the culprit. Within minutes, they'd contacted the police, who were quickly on the case.
Leading to the world's first ever "APB for jorts."
The Social Networking Burglar
Thanks to the never-ending onslaught of police procedural shows, everyone in the world now has a pretty good understanding of the basics of forensic evidence. Wear gloves, clean shoes, hats; there's no excuse anymore for conducting a crime that leaves behind evidence that can be tracked back to you. It's just one of the rules of the game.
Which brings us to Trevor Jones, who is apparently playing his own game.
While robbing a house in 2011, Jones parked his car in the driveway while he went inside to get a-robbin'. The legitimate resident of the home returned around then to find a strange car in the driveway and her door open, and perhaps wisely chose not to step inside. Instead, she looked inside the strange car in her driveway and took the keys and wallet that were apparently just sitting there in the car, because, you know, can't hold that when robbin'. And then she took off, taking with her all the evidence needed to blow this case wide open.
"I wonder ... I wonder if that driver's license might offer any clues? CHIEF! CHIEF! I GOT IT!"
Thankfully, for the sake of this story, this did not deter Trevor Jones. When he returned to his car with the stolen goods and realized his keys and wallet were missing, he did not give up. He so furiously did not give up, in fact, that his next move was to sprint straight into a nearby pond, because he is an awesome criminal. On the other side of the pond, he broke into another house, where he logged into Facebook, because who the fuck even cares anymore? And yes, when he sprinted out of that home, leaving behind puddles and Trevor Jones-shaped stains on the couch, of course he forgot to log out of Facebook. Of course he did.
The greatest part of this whole story is that, based on a cursory search of Google (we really tried hard for this one), it doesn't look like the police ever caught this guy! Which means that to this day, every single one of us is at risk of returning home to find a bunch of our stuff missing, "I am Trevor Jones" scribbled in lipstick on the walls, and a Trevor Jones-shaped hole in the wall of our house.