Every criminal dreams of committing the perfect crime, making the dream getaway, leaving no evidence behind. However, very few of them actually pull it off.
The vast majority of criminals make mistakes somewhere along the way. They leave clues for cops to follow, they mess up a part of their plan, or they get spotted by witnesses who dial 911.
The following criminals were far more stupid than that. They virtually turned themselves in with their ludicrous antics, accidentally walking into police stations, taking selfies with stolen phones, and getting drunk before committing their crimes.
Read on to learn about the world’s dumbest criminals and all the silly ways in which they got caught.
Terrorism is no joke, but there were definitely a few laughs among the man sighs of relief when people learned the story of terrible terrorist, Faisal Shahzad. Back in 2010, Shahzad wanted to set off a car bomb in New York City.
He filled it with explosives and fireworks and parked it at Times Square. Luckily, he was too dumb to make a proper bomb, so nothing actually happened. Not only that, but he left the keys to his apartment locked inside the car, allowing cops to track him down with ease.
The number one rule of being a criminal is not to leave any evidence behind. You don’t want to give any clues to the cops. Gang member Anthony Garcia must have missed the memo! This very foolish man actually decided to get a tattoo depicting a shooting he’d been involved in several years ago.
Cops were looking through pictures of gang tattoos when they noticed the similarities between the tattoo on Garcia’s chest with the scene of an unsolved shooting. Garcia had put lots of little details into his tattoo design which convinced cops he was the killer.
One of the golden rules of committing a crime is that you should get away from the scene as soon as possible, not sticking around for anything. Well, one guy robbed a house in South Africa and decided to hide under the sofa until he could make a clean getaway.
The owner got home and called the cops, who came over to file a report. During the interview, the homeowner looked at the sofa and spotted the thief hiding underneath it, sneakily lying right under the cop who was sitting above him.
If you’re planning a robbery or heist of some kind, you should usually prepare a getaway car, right? That’s something we’ve all learned from the movies. Well, a couple of Texan criminals decided that instead of a car or van, their getaway vehicle would be a wheelchair. One of them robbed a jewelry store while the other literally sat outside in the chair, ready to roll. They were very quickly apprehended.
Everyone knows the famous Japanese schoolgirl outfit, with the little blue skirts and white blouses. One Japanese criminal decided to dress up like that in order to avoid detection after stealing bags from women in the street. The only problem was that the guy was way too tall to be a typical schoolgirl and also had facial hair.
Stealing credit cards and then using them to buy a bunch of stuff is a popular ‘get rich quick’ scheme among criminals, but it’s easy to be detected, especially if the card you use belongs to someone famous!
In India, a thief was caught after handing over a credit card with the name of one of Bollywood’s most famous celebrities. The cashier could easily tell that the guy wasn’t the star he knew from the films, so he called the cops.
Over in Hungary, a woman decided to rob a store using a very special weapon: a can of deodorant. She rushed into the store, waving the car around and calling it “gas spray”. Workers quickly noticed that it was just deodorant and the woman was later arrested.
Cops over in Ossining, New York, were chasing 23-year-old criminal, Blake Leak, through the streets after Leak was seen attempting to break into a mini-mart. Leak thought he’d made a grand escape after the cops tripped over in the street, giving him a chance to dash into a nearby building. That building just happened to be part of the Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
There’s nothing wrong with watching a lot of movies, but you shouldn’t always believe everything you see in them. One thief had seen many heist movies where bank cards were used to easily open doors.
He tried the trick for himself on a neighbor’s apartment, but his card simply broke, with half of it falling inside the door! The neighbor spotted it and then called the cops, reading out the name written right there on the card.
If you’re a criminal and you want to get away with a crime, it’s probably not a good idea to write an entire book about it. Well, Krystian Bala did! This crime author wrote a novel called Amok, detailing a grisly murder.
Cops noticed that the story bore lots of similarities with an unsolved case: the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski. They bought Bala in for questioning and he eventually admitted to being the murderer, using his real-life experience to write a story.
One romantic criminal snatched a bottle of vodka from a liquor store in Scotland. On his way out, he noticed an attractive shop assistant and decided to stop and ask her out on a date, giving her his name and number. She gave the details to the cops, who tracked the thief down instantly.
Surely if you’re a thief, you should just take what you can get your hands on and be happy with it, right? Well, a Brazilian thief named Wellington Silva Oliveira mugged a guy and took his wallet and watch.
He ran away, but then saw that the watch wasn’t as fancy as he hoped, so decided to go back and give it to the guy, claiming it was a fake. He then casually remained in the area, playing soccer while the victim reported the crime to cops, who arrested Oliveira moments later.
Two Croatian criminals were apprehended with over 100g of weed in their car. While they were being questioned by cops, one of their phones suddenly got a text. It said “Water my weed, please” and was from one of their friends. They went to the guy’s place and discovered an entire marijuana farm.
Joseph Meacham can blame alcohol for his stupid arrest. He’d been driving while drunk and then got pulled over by the police. Instead of accepting that his actions were dangerous and facing his punishment, Meacham pushed one of the cops over and tried to make a run for it.
He ran straight into the first building he found: a police station. He hadn’t been looking where he was going, and suddenly he was trapped. Of course, the cops had no idea who he was at first, but when they saw him acting so strangely, they cornered him and started asking questions.
When criminals want to rob stores in the US, they usually carry a firearm of some kind. In other countries, where guns are illegal, robbers have to be more resourceful and get creative with their weapons. One dimwitted British thief named Gary Rough decided to try robbing a UK store armed with nothing but a cucumber! It didn’t scare anybody, and the store’s security guard tackled Gary to the ground.
Some people don’t believe in justice, but stories like this prove that it really can happen, and it can act fast! Mauricio Fierro was a Brazilian thief who stole a car and decided to rob a pharmacy too. When he got outside with the loot, however, he discovered that his stolen car had been stolen!
Moments later, another thief snuck up behind Fierro and stole the loot he’d taken from the pharmacy right out of his hands. The robber had been robbed twice in one night. Now that’s karma! To make matters worse, Fierro then decided to report the crimes to the cops, who recognized him as the pharmacy thief and arrested him.
Over in Poland, a couple of criminals started arguing with each other. Their argument got worse and worse, to the point where one of them decided to call the police. When the cops arrived, they ran the IDs of both men, discovering that they were on the wanted list. Apparently, they both forgot all about that in the heat of their dispute.
Many of us have accidentally called someone after leaving our phone in our pocket and then sitting on it. The classic ‘butt dial’ usually leads to some funny situations, but it was life-changing for a couple of criminals named Nathan Teklemariam and Carson Rinehart.
The pair got caught breaking into a car after one of them accidentally butt-dialed 911. The dispatcher heard the whole crime and used audio clues to track down the criminals.
A Chinese burglar ended up needing to be rescued by cops before they arrested him! He tried to escape through a tiny window after stealing goods from an apartment building. The window was way too small and the criminal was left hanging halfway out the window, unable to get back inside.
The rewards for the capture of criminals can be quite high, encouraging the likes of bounty hunters and justice-seekers to hand bad guys over to the cops or tip them off if they have any clues.
Well, over in Afghanistan, Taliban leader Mohammad Ashan was a little lacking in the cash department. So, when he saw that there was a $100 reward for his own capture, he decided to hand himself in and ask for the money. Obviously, he was simply arrested and never got a single cent.
Manners are important, but if you’re a criminal, being polite can get you in trouble! Just look at the case of Graham Price as an example. Price worked at a bank and stole millions to fuel his gambling addiction, pay off his debts, and buy himself a bunch of Mercedes cars.
Maybe Price was just trying to show off, or maybe he was being polite, but when someone opened up a safe at the bank, they found an IOU note signed by Price, revealing the full extent of his theft.
Sharleen Bath might win the award for the world’s silliest criminal. She wanted to hire a hitman to kill her husband, but she didn’t know where to find one. So what did she do? She looked in the Yellow Pages! Apparently, she was expecting to see ‘Hitmen’ as a category alongside plumbers and electricians.
She found a company called ‘Gunsmoke’ that seemed violent enough and gave them a call. Gunsmoke was actually just a party company, and the owner was astonished to get a call from someone asking for an actual contract killer. They worked with the cops to plan a bust, as undercover officers met up with Sharleen, pretending to be assassins and arresting her on the spot.
We’re all at risk of muggers and thieves, especially when so much of us are carrying around fancy phones that can be worth quite a lot of money. Phones are getting stolen all the time, but thieves usually know that they need to get rid of them quickly to avoid being caught.
At least, most of them do! Albert Wilson, however, just didn’t get it. After stealing an iPhone, the first thing he did was snap a selfie. It went to the cloud, where police used it to track him down.
Things started badly for British robber James Allan and they got worse from there. Wearing a mask and armed with a toy gun, he burst into a shop and asked the lady behind the counter to hand over all the money.
Then, he removed his mask, revealing his identity on the security cameras, tripped over a store display, and had to ask for help opening the door of the shop because he was trying to push it instead of pull it. He was arrested very quickly.
Marque Moore thought he’d discovered the perfect money-making scheme. He stole books and other items and then resold them for a quick profit on Craigslist. It worked for a while, but then one of Moore’s victims was browsing Craigslist and recognized their stolen bike on the site!
The guy arranged to meet with Moore to confirm that the bike was his and then called the cops, who searched the property and found over a dozen other stolen bicycles.
Meth addict Christopher Wilson might have been under the influence of his favorite illicit substance when he decided to rob a hardware store, taking all kinds of random items and marching out with his arms loaded up. Unfortunately for him, a little vial of him with his name and number written on it fell out of his pocket on the way out.
Lukasz Chojnowsk was a very strange criminal. He broke into a home to steal some goods, but instead of making a quick getaway, he decided to spend some time in the home. He went out and bought some groceries to make himself a meal and even used the washing machine to clean his clothes, as well as taking a nap in the homeowner’s bed, which is where they found him when they got back.
R.C. Gaitlin was wanted for armed robbery. One day, he saw some cops showing off their latest gadgets to some local kids and stopped by to take a look. When he saw that they had a driver’s license scanner, he asked how it worked.
The cops said they’d be happy to show him, if he could lend them his ID for a moment. Gaitlin happily volunteered his license, which the cops scanned, revealing his past crimes. Then, the local kids got to see a real live arrest happen right before their eyes!
We heard about one accidental butt dial earlier on. And now, here’s another. A murderer named Scott Simon accidentally called the cops while he was talking about a murder he had planned. He later did actually commit the crime, and cops had a recording of him talking all about it. It’s just a shame they weren’t able to act sooner.
A guy named Christopher Badman decided to rob a hotel. Like any clever criminal, he decided to wear a disguise so that the security cameras couldn’t catch him. So… he put a bag on his head. Then, midway through the robbery, he randomly decided to take the bag off and looked right up at a camera, completely blowing his cover.
Awareness and observation are two very important attributes of anyone who wants to be a successful criminal. You need to be alert and attentive, always looking out for cops or people who might turn you in. One very unobservant criminal tried to rob a Canadian coffee shop, not even noticing that there were two cops standing in line beside him.
Many master criminals from the past famously taunted cops. They enjoyed the attention and loved to tease the police’s efforts to try and catch them. Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer both did this, and got away with it.
One German bank robber tried to follow in their footsteps, emailing the local cops and laughing at their attempts to track him down. He told them they’d got a bunch of details about his appearance wrong. The cops had the last laugh; they tracked his location from his email account and arrested him the same day.
Some criminals can spend months or even years preparing their masterplans. Dean Smith, however, just decided to wing it. He put on a pair of shades as a ‘disguise’ and walked into a bank, demanding the cashier hand over all the money.
The cashier refused, and they also recognized Smith as he’d been in the same bank only half an hour earlier, providing the staff with his full name and address, which they gave to police to track him down.
Many of us are a little addicted to social media nowadays, always checking our phones and feeds for the latest tweets and status updates of our friends. But there’s a time and place to check your Facebook!
One thief named Jonathan Parker foolishly logged into his account while committing a robbery in a West Virginia home. He even left the tab open when he left, so the homeowner’s had his name and photos to provide to police.
A picky Canadian criminal heard a story about his own crimes on the radio. He was annoyed that the report got several details wrong, mistakenly reporting certain items that he didn’t actually steal and leaving out others. He decided to call the cops and let them know about the errors. They recorded the call and arrested him soon after.
Cheeky criminal Stephan Crane broke into a newsroom and used the office computers to watch pornography and check his Facebook account. Then, he decided to spray a fire extinguisher all over the place and stole some candy from a vending machine. Little did he know that one of the packets of M&M’s inside his pocket had burst open, leaving a colorful trail over the street to his sister’s apartment.
A South African car thief thought he was about to get away with a great robbery after breaking into a vehicle and preparing to drive away. Unfortunately for him, the car’s auto-lock system activated, trapping him inside! He was stuck in there for over an hour, banging on the windows and asking people for help until the car’s owner arrived with the cops.
One Illinois criminal thought he’d come up with the perfect bank robbery. He wrote down a message on a piece of paper saying “Give your cash or I’ll shoot!” and silently handed it to a teller. The worker followed the man’s demands and gave him a few hundred dollars. He ran out and thought he’d got away with it. The problem? His little ‘note’ was written on a payslip with his name and address on it.
Cops in Canada got a tip that a guy named Jason Pauchay might be selling drugs. They decided to search his apartment, but found nothing. They were about to leave, and Pauchay was about to get away with the crime, when they saw how he’d written his name on his cell phone: “Jason Pauchay – Drug Dealer”.