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Dumb Criminals

In most so-called "developed" countries, crime is decreasing. Because they sell more advertising by scaring people, the news media generally over-report crime so that most people think that "crime has become worse". Hopefully these true stories will help a little to deflate our impression of how clever and dastardly and prolific criminals are. In my opinion, many are dumb (=stupid) and most are simply desperate. Enjoy these stories about the especially dumb ones and, if you have one or two of your own that you'd like to add to this collection, you can send them by clicking HERE.

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Stupid Criminal Hold-up

Self Evident (submitted by Sherman)

As a fairly young policeman several years ago I was at the office on a Friday night around 9:00pm when a man walked in the door and came to the counter. I asked if I could help him and he said "Yes, I want you to give me a breathalyzer". I asked him why and he said he arrived home and his wife accused him of being drunk. He told her he was not drunk and he would prove it to her so he wanted me to give him a breathalyzer so he could prove it to her. I asked him how he got there and he said he drove and pointed at his car parked outside. I administered the test and he failed. He was charged for driving under the influence, spent the night in jail, received a huge fine and his driver's license was suspended for a year.


Kitsap County, Washington (submitted by Mary)

A group of criminals decided to record their deeds (stealing and shooting at people with Airsoft guns). They then uploaded the video to YouTube, complete with full credits...with their real names. Whoops! They also titled their video with the location. Needless to say, the police had little trouble identifying the perpetrators. (The video has since been removed from YouTube.)

From Kitsap Sun, July 23, 2011.

Green Bay, Wisconsin (submitted by Dan)

Five crooks from Ohio were arrested in Green Bay for a series of break-ins of vending machines at convenience stores in the area. Finally police caught up with them in responding to help at one of the stores. Apparently one crook would use different kinds of tools to unlock the vending machines and take the money while the other four would stand around and block the view of what was going on. When police arrived the crook doing the lock-picking hid the tools amongst grocery items but they were found by one of the officers. The lock picker denied that the tools were his. After being hand-cuffed one officer tricked the lock picker by challenging him to break out of the handcuffs. "I can't", said he, "you have my tools."

From Green Bay Press Gazette, April 23, 2011.

Casper, Wyoming (submitted by Kate the Great)

David James Palmer was detained and searched in front of Kelly Walsh High School after his suspicious behaviour garnered the attention of a passing police officer. Palmer, a 16-year-old drop-out, did his best to talk his way out of the situation, but when the officer found an ounce of marijuana divided into several smaller bags that made it obvious that Palmer had been dealing the drug in a school zone, he uttered the absolutely most ridiculously perfect sentence any Stupid Criminal Drug Dealer could ever say: "It's not mine. I'm selling it!"

Modesto, California

Steven Richard King was arrested for trying to hold up a Bank of America branch without a weapon. King used a thumb and a finger to simulate a gun, but unfortunately, he failed to keep his hand in his pocket.

Winthrop Harbor, Illinois: Suspended Driver Arrests (submitted by Moky)

On 7/19/04 at 01:27 A.M., an Officer inside the police department heard somebody beeping a horn outside. Upon going outside, the Officer saw two occupied vehicles in the parking lot. One person stated the other vehicle was chasing them. It was reported there was a minor traffic accident happened, but no damage was found to either vehicle. Both drivers were arrested for driving suspended. Cecil R. Ezell, 39 of Winthrop Harbor, and Jesse T. Body, 33 of Zion were both charged with driving suspended and given August 12th court dates and released.

Winthrop Harbor Police Dept., July 19, 2004

Janesville, Wisconsin: Thief picked wrong item to steal

Police say tracking this thief was a snap. The loot was a computerized tracking device that uses the global positioning system and Internet technology to keep track of jail prisoners on home detention.

"He apparently didn't know what he had because he would be awfully stupid to steal a tracking device," said correctional officer Thomas Roth, who runs the home detention program at the Rock County Jail.

The $2,500 device was temporarily placed outside a home by a woman serving home detention. The device, which is a little bigger than a brick in size, has a built-in GPS satellite receiver. Prisoners wear a transmitter about as big as a cigarette pack on the ankle, and it acts as a 100-foot tether to the portable tracking device.

By the time the prisoner called to report the theft Monday night, the device had automatically notified the jail that it had been taken outside the prisoner's home area. Roth then tracked the device through the Internet on his home computer. A trail of electronic dots led authorities to an apartment building.

Lem Lom, 40, of Janesville was arrested as he left the building. He was charged with theft.

Associated Press, October 30, 2003


A man walked into a Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars. If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, was a crime committed?


Wearing a ski mask and carrying a gun, a thief burst into the bank one day. Aiming his gun at the guard, the thief yelled, FREEZE, MOTHER-STICKERS, THIS IS A _ _ _ _-UP!"

For a moment, everyone was silent. Then the snickers started. The guard completely lost it and doubled over laughing. It probably saved his life, because he'd been about to draw his gun. He couldn't have drawn and fired before the thief got him. The thief ran away and is still at large.

In memory of the event, the bank has put this engraved plaque on the wall ...."Freeze, Mother-Stickers, this is a _ _ _ _-up!"

London: Bungling Bandit Leaves Wallet and Phone Behind

A bungling bandit was nabbed after he left his wallet and mobile phone behind during an armed raid on an off license, a court heard on Thursday.

The robber took his wallet out to pay for a can of lager in a ploy to get the shopkeeper to open the till. But in the confusion as three other members of the gang ransacked the shop escaping with cash, phone cards and booze, he forgot he had left it on the counter, said prosecutor Riel Karmy-Jones.

He also dropped his mobile phone which had his number in the memory and did not remember to wear gloves, leaving his fingerprints on the can of lager, the Old Bailey heard. He was arrested the next day in one of the easiest crimes police have had to crack. Detectives traced Junior Adeoye, 19, from his wallet and his phone.

Adeoye, of north London, pleaded guilty to robbery. The court heard that Adeoye and three others raided the D & D Off License and newsagents in New Southgate, north London. The gang escaped with two mobile phones, 800 pounds worth of phone cards, 825 pounds in cash and bottles of spirits. Adeoye realized he had left his wallet behind and tried to hide his involvement by reporting it stolen. But as the evidence piled up against him, he admitted his guilt.

Reuters, April 12, 2002

Hitachi, Japan

A robber gave up his heist before finishing it, had his victim call for help and then patiently waited until officers arrived on the scene and arrested him, police said Monday.

"I realized that I wasn't wearing a mask and I'd be easily recognized if the crime was reported to the police," Katsuhiro Sekine, the 21-year-old unemployed Hitachi man arrested for robbery told the police.

Police said Sekine burst into a Hitachi convenience store at 2:35 a.m. He was brandishing a knife and demanded money. Storeowner Toshiyuki Otsu handed Sekine 10,800 yen in cash, but was then taken aback when Sekine turned to him and said, "Please call the police." Otsu did as commanded, eventually handing the phone over to Sekine. As they talked over the phone, officers rushed to the store, where Sekine was waiting for them and gave himself up.

Mainichi Shimbun, April 8, 2002

Penrith, Australia

A group of robbers who stole a cash machine in Australia watched as their haul went up in flames.

They used a truck to ram a service station in Penrith and dragged the machine out with a chain. They sped away with it dragging behind the truck, but the heat generated by the friction caused the machine and the money inside to catch fire.

Alerted police found the truck with it's haul still on fire after following gouge marks made by the heavy cash machine in the road.

Detectives hope footage from surveillance cameras at the service station will identify the offenders, who are suspected of at least three other similar thefts.

Daily Telegraph, Australia. May 1, 2002

. . . and now a couple with the shoe on the other (flat?) foot:

1. Christchurch, New Zealand

A man received a mistaken phone call from police saying there were armed officers surrounding his house. The 33-year-old was told to walk out with his arms in the air and no weapons. When he got outside there was no one there and he went back in. A police negotiator still on the phone then realized he had got the wrong telephone number.

The Press, New Zealand, 1st May 2002

2. Oakland, California

Police spent two hours attempting to subdue a gunman who had barricaded himself inside his home. After firing ten tear gas canisters, officers discovered that the man was standing beside them, shouting "Please come out and give yourself up".

and back to the dumb criminals again:

Victim outwits Danish 'egg' thieves

Two Danish thieves have been arrested trying to sell a designer chair back to the very man they stole it from. The burglars made a crucial mistake when the victim turned detective and set out to track down his own chair, Danish radio reported. The chair, called "Aegget" (The Egg), is a modern classic, selling for up to Kr51,000 ($7,740).

But it was the thieves who ended up with egg on their faces, as the chair's rightful owner sprang a trap to retrieve his seat. Instead of feathering their own nest, the two criminals ended up in police custody.

Chair Burglar

The owner had advertised his chair for sale, and taken a phone call from a potential purchaser. But he had to warn the man that no viewing would be possible until he returned from a trip. By the time he got back, his house had been burgled and the chair was gone.

One chair to the worse, the man turned detective and placed a second advertisement - this time posing as a dealer looking to buy an "Aegget". When he got a call offering him a chair, he immediately recognised the voice as the man who had rung him originally. As the chair for sale was described, the rightful owner was sure that it was his "Aegget" that was being offered back to him.

Suspiciously cheap

Produced by top 20th century designer and architect Arne Jacobsen, this kind of chair is never a cut-price item. So when the owner had bargained the thief down to a mere Kr12,000 ($1,820), he played his trump card.

"This sounds like stolen property," he said, "we'll have to agree on a completely different price."

The burglar took the bait. "We can sort that out," he said.

When the owner visited the thief to clinch the deal, he was accompanied by two police officers The burglar and his accomplice were arrested, and the final piece of the jigsaw slotted into place. The owner's telephone number was found stored on the criminal's mobile phone, under the less than original code name of "Aegget".

Faced with all the evidence, the criminals had to admit they'd been counting their chickens before the "Aegget" had hatched, and made a clean breast of it to the police.

BBC. 19 July, 2003

Seattle, USA

When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor-home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for:

Police arrived at the scene to find an ill man curled up next to a motor-home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his hose into the motorhome's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.

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