Ignorance is bliss and crime doesn’t pay: two idioms that shouldn’t go in the same thought. If you’re going to show the initiative to be a criminal it will pay in the end if you’re smart enough to pull it off. Make no mistake, law enforcement has seen it all and your chances of making a clean getaway are slim.
The following dumb criminals shouldn’t have even gotten off the couch.
10. Deaf Robber Can’t Hear Alarm
A man name Klaus Schmidt attempted to rob a bank in Berlin during the summer of 1995. He walked in the front door brandishing a pistol and demanding that a bag be filled with cash. An understandably rattled bank teller asked the masked man if he needed a bag for the cash he was attempting to clear out of the tills, to which he responded “You’re damn right it’s a real gun!” The bank employees quickly realized that the criminal before them was in fact deaf.
The alarm was sounded, and the employees pretended it wasn’t very loud, so as not to tip off the armed man. He was even unaware when police entered the bank and quickly put him into custody. His response? Schmidt sued the bank for taking advantage of his hearing impairment.
9. Free Beer Catches 19 Criminals
The things I would do for free beer…
In 2011 Derbyshire police used a novel sting idea: lure criminals into the open by offering them free beer. A number of wanted criminals received notices that they had won a crate of beer each. All they needed to do was contact the promotional company and they could be the proud owner of some ice cold suds.
Of the lengthy list of prospects, 19 men responded. Imagine the disappointment when instead of free beer these men were arrested. Now that’s what I call “entrapment”.
8. Robber Gives Cashier His Contact Info
Chicago, like many other large American cities, has its own fair share of criminals; some of which start their careers on the wrong side of the law young. In 2008 Ruben Zarate decided to rob a muffler shop. He came in the front with a gun demanding that the staff clean out the safe.
The problem was, Zarate just missed the shop’s manager—the only one with the code to the safe. Not one to give up, Zarate decided he would try again later. Maybe he had more robberies to commit that day or he just had his other gun at the shop, but to save himself time Zarate left his contact info so the staff could contact him when the manager was again in.
The staff did eventually call Zarate back, but not before alerting the authorities. When he returned for the cash, the police were waiting for him.
7. Robber Leaves Birth Certificate
Leaving behind a phone number is bad; modern CSI teams can find criminals from just a strand of hair, so you can imagine that they take a coffee break when the crook does the work for them. Not every officer can be as lucky as a few in Boston who tracked a criminal who left behind not only his birth certificate, but a letter addressed to him from his mother.
The criminal in this case was a purse snatcher and he got away—temporarily—with $40. The victim put up a fight though, and the opportunistic man dropped a bag of his own. The birth certificate inside identified him as Zachary Tentoni. When police contacted him, he claimed to be someone else but to no avail.
6. The Getaway Donkey
Assuming you’re a good enough crook to not leave any identifying information at the scene, you will still have to make your escape. The optimal getaway vehicle is a good blend of speed and maneuverability. Something that has endurance, range, and most of all doesn’t stand out. Here it should be noted that a little bit of planning can go a long way.
Enter a gang of Columbian thieves. To kick off their crime spree they abducted a 10-year-old donkey named Xavi. Poor Xavi was in their criminal clutches for nearly 12 hours before the gang robbed a convenience store. They loaded their loot of food and rum onto Xavi who refused to cooperate. Perhaps he was afraid of being considered an accessory after the fact.
In fact, Xavi decided to do his civic duty, and began making such a ruckus that a nearby police officer on patrol decided to investigate. The bumbling robbers fled and Xavi was returned to his owner.
5. Robbers Warn Bank via Phone
Albert Baily is the kind of criminal that leaves nothing to chance. On March 23, 2010 he and a juvenile accomplice decided to rob a bank in Fairfield, Connecticut. Everyone knows that an effective bank job is in and out, with no dawdling. To give the bank staff time to package up the cash that Baily and his young ward were going to collect, he called the bank in advance.
Of course the bank staff were less than compliant. They had the police in the loop and when Baily showed up to collect the $100,000 he had demanded they arrested him. Baily and his accomplice were charged with first-degree robbery and threatening in the first degree, a sentence that carried up to nine years in prison.
4. Carjacker Can’t Drive Stick
Leaving one’s vehicle unattended invites trouble. This was the case in Omaha, Nebraska when one Melissa Peters was on her way to bring her son to school when she found a skinny teen with a gun pointed at her. She and her son fled to safety while the carjacker attempted to make off with her car.
Unfortunately for the careless carjacker, he couldn’t drive stick: the car had a manual transmission and this guy was going nowhere fast. After turning on the lights and honking the horn he managed to get the windshield wipers working. He fled on foot, and was immediately apprehended a few blocks away. The good news for everyone is that the gun he had used to stick up Mrs. Peters was fake, so no weapons charge for him.
3. Burglar Crashes A Home Full Of Police
People worry about burglars breaking in to their homes while they are sleeping, but the truth is most burglars will strike when you aren’t home. Darren Kimpton of Abington, Northampton chose instead to throw caution to the wind and burgle an occupied, even crowded house.
Kimpton had the extreme misfortune of breaking into a house that had already been burgled earlier that night. There was a whole team of police officers already inside the house conducting their investigation when in walks Kimpton. He attempted to flee but the alert officers on the scene took him into custody.
If that wasn’t enough bad luck for one day, Kimpton had also attempted to break into another house in the neighborhood, though he failed to gain entry. What he did succeed in doing, however, was cut himself on a shard of glass and leave a bloody pool of DNA all over the broken window. It was a pretty open and shut case.
2. Robber Gives His Gun Away
The Halifax Bank in London was the site of what started off as a routine robbery. Masked man walks in with a gun and a bag. He demands that the cashier fill the bag with cash. The plan seemed simple enough from the outset: hand cashier bag, cashier fills bag, go home £700,000 richer.
Instead, the robber handed the teller his gun. There was a moment where neither person really understood what just happened and an awkward silence ensued. The robber snapped back into action and tried to snag his gun back but the cashier needed only take a step back to keep it out of the reach of the failed crook.
The robber fled, and evened the score by stealing a bicycle belonging to one of the bank employees. Better luck next time.
1. The Worst Disguise Ever
A constant theme when it comes to evading law enforcement is to mask your identity. Whether this is accomplished by using an actual mask, or simply by not leaving your birth certificate behind, the effect is still the same. Dennis Hawkins tried his best to keep his identity a secret. He decided to rob a bank in Pittsburgh and either he didn’t think his disguise through or he thought about it way too much.
To pull off his heist, Hawkins donned a woman’s blonde wig, a pair of fake breasts, and clown pants. While all of these do change the way that strangers see him, it failed to mask his face. While it seemed that his overall goal was to fool bank staff and security cameras into thinking he was woman, a smarter move would have been to first shave his goatee.
The ‘disguise’ was also less that discreet. Once Hawkins’ description was circulated to law enforcement, he was easily spotted and was later reported by a gas station attendant who observed him trying to steal a car. Fake breasts or not, ultimately Hawkins would have been easy to pick out of a crowd; one of the bank’s dye packs secreted in with the cash he stole painted him red from head to toe.