Dumb criminal stories are a hallmark of the internet. They're fun, and they're satisfying—everyone likes seeing a bad guy get done in by their own stupidity. But then are the criminals who are actually so clever that the cops who catch them (or let them get away) have to give them at least a little credit. Recently, some police officers posted stories on Reddit about the most clever criminals they ever encountered in the line of duty.
1. This story from Putnum really builds to something. (Like drugs.)
Had a guy build his house on an elevated slab and had a massive cannabis farm underneath, stole power from his neighbours and wouldnt have been caught if he didn't do big regular burn-offs. There was a lot of money involved there.
2. Dispatcher qc013330 dealt with the handful of dudes who took gas instead of leaving it. This is a fart joke.
Not a police officer, but a police dispatcher here. We had a theft from a gas station recently. The thieves arrived after closing time with a large tank on a trailer pulled by a large truck. They proceeded to hack into the gas pump by an unknown method and change the price to $0.01 per gallon and steal 1000 gallons of gas. I'm impressed.
3. Twins are always up to no good, still-improving. Haven't you ever seen The Parent Trap?
Not a cop, but a cop told me about this. Evidently there were these two twin brothers, big, tall, muscular fellows. Their scam was ingenious. Both brothers would go into Home Depot separately and each begin shopping, filling up his cart with high-value stuff, each filling up his cart with identical items.
The first brother would go to the cashier and legally pay for his purchases. He'd show his receipt at the door and take his purchases out of the store.
The second brother would hang around the entrance, far enough from the exit not to arouse suspicion. The first brother would take his car to the entrance and give the receipt to the second brother. First dude then takes his purchases to load up in their vehicle.
Second brother then takes the cart full of items, plus receipt, back to the returns counter and says he changed his mind and wants his money back. Home Depot would refund the "purchases". Dude basically just sold Home Depot their own items.
Evidently they pulled this trick off and on for years before someone caught on. Cop said they probably would have kept on getting away with it for years if they hadn't hit the same store so often.
4. This story from TreyWait is the rare one that features giant pants, but not an illegal weight loss pill.
Not a cop, but used to do store security for a Tower Records. One day we were watching a guy on camera acting suspiciously. He would pick up a handful of CDs look up into the camera, smile, spin around, and poof the CDs would be gone! We couldn't figure out what the hell he was doing with them. He wasn't wearing a coat or anything he could quickly conceal them in, just a t-shirt and baggy jeans. We watched him do still several times smirking the whole time. We were wondering if maybe he was baiting us, trying to get us to stop him so that he could sue the company, but CDs were definitely vanishing. Anyway we stop him at the front doors, and shook him down a bit. He just smiled and claimed he didn't know what we were talking about. He even lets us pat him down... no CDs. So we let him go. Then we went back and watched the tape several more times. Then we spotted it. Down around his calf area, vaguely square outlines. When I patted him down I saw he was wear 2 pairs of pants. He'd been dropping them down his pants and letting them slide down his legs. The pants were baggy enough that dropping them the inside pair made the CDs almost invisible in the pant legs. I have to tip my hat to this guy. He was like a magician.
5. KrakenGoon had his own squad car stolen out from under him.
My partner and I responded to a burglary call at a house late one night. When we got there we heard the back fence rattle and knew someone jumped the fence to flee. We set up a perimeter and ended up catching the burglar with the stolen goods. As I put him in the backseat of the squad car he began throwing up. He drank a bottle of whiskey while stealing the things from the house and after running from us the liquor didn't sit well. I rolled the window down so he could puke on the outside of the car instead of the inside. We drove back to the house to complete the report and he told me there was another person with him inside the house and he knew where the suspect was. He motioned to a house two blocks away that had a garage door partially opened. He said his friend went inside and was hiding in there. I told my rookie partner to stay by the squad car while me and a few others checked the house. I made it to the garage and realized nobody was in there and immediately heard tires squealing and a car speeding off. I ran back to the house knowing what happened before I got there. The burglar in my backseat was now the car thief in the front seat driving my squad car away from the scene. Naturally everyone there jumped in their squad cars and the search was on for the stolen squad car. We found the squad car about 20 minutes later abandoned behind a house where a civilian was reporting their car stolen. The civilian left their car running to warm up and the suspect stole that car to get away. About an hour later the suspect was seen joyriding around where the burglary happened and the chase was on! There were approximately 20 different units chasing this suspect throughout the city until the suspect finally crashed and was taken into custody. He is now serving 19 years in federal prison due to the fact he was a convicted felon and when he stole the squad car he also removed several guns I had inside the car and was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. I was mad and embarrassed at the time but I have to had it to him for outwitting us.
He later told us he was double jointed and knew he could slip the handcuffs off and get them around to the front of his body. He said he made the story up of the second suspect in order to get us away from the car so he could use it to get away.
6. Patnet cites the craziest game of Telephone ever.
We get a call reporting that the phone system of a major UK bank has been hacked and that the caller has had several thousand pounds stolen from their account as a result. Seems unlikely, but officers went round to see what had happened. Obviously the bank's system was fine, but scammers had done something fairly clever.
Turns out that there is a way in the UK of keeping a phone line open when only the recipient hangs up. The scammers called the victim and pretended to be from the bank, before asking for account details. Victim was suspicious so hung up and called the bank back at their real telephone number. However, the scammers held the line open and played a dial tone down the line so the victim thought that she was making a new call, then they played a "ring ring" sample before a new scammer answered the call and took the details pretending to be the bank.
7. This story from Johnathon78 has a twist. Lots of them, actually. It's about lock-twisting.
Had a guy when I first started would twist locks. The art of twisting a lock works mainly in businesses that secure their double front doors using a deadbolt style lock. He would use a tool to twist this lock and in turn, open the doors. Guy probably got away with 25 businesses before he was finally busted. He later said his style of breaking and entering worked so well because the alarm systems have a set delay when opening a business. Say 30seconds. Given the glass wasn't broke or large movements were observed by the system, it would act as if the store we're opening and give the employee time to reset the alarm. Those 30s were plenty for him to get in, get to the register, and leave.
8. Notacop21 really branched out with this one.
When I was a rookie I got a call at 3:00 AM one night about a hold up alarm going off at an ATM. I respond and don't really take the call that seriously at first because I'm thinking, "No way a hold up alarm is being triggered at 3 in the morning".
I get there and start checking the bank when I see a guy walking through the drive through. Stupid me strolls over and calmly says, "Hey man, come over here and talk to me for a minute." He bolts and I take off after him only to realize I left my handheld in my car. I run back and call it in and my partner shows up shorty after. Well we can't find the guy and start looking around. The guy spray painted the ATM camera and he drive thru camera, which set off the alarm.
About an hour later I see a vehicle with out of state tags driving slowly through the drive thru and after running the plate, he has fictitious tags. We search the vehicle and can find absolutely nothing but a very long tree branch in the back of the SUV. We write him for fictitious tags and send him on his way per my Sgt.
The next day my investigator gets a call from the FBI because they had this guy's name flagged and saw where we ran him. He had been hittin ATMs in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee. We were the first department that actually came in contact with him. He would spray paint the cameras or use the tree branch to turn high cameras away, after the alarms go off, he would wait nearby for police to leave. He would then come back and saw the hinges off the ATMs and take the money. He stole approximately $150,000 over a six month period. He was caught a few weeks later by a guy I went to the academy with.
9. According to psilad, the best way to steal an ATM is to somehow already have an ATM.
I locked up a guy a few years ago and he had an unusual crime on his criminal history. "Theft of an ATM".
I asked him about it and he told me he was with 4 others and they all turned up at a local bank in overalls with a large truck. They asked for the manager and told him "We're here to repair the ATM. The manager helped them load the ATM on to the truck (full of cash) and they drove away.
10. JustDontBeMean's story is the very definition of "long con."
I was an MP at Fort Carson. The young man was in the service for two years before a dishonorable discharge sending him back home to Pennsylvania. When he got home he used his uniform to get discounts and praise. One day he decided to hop on a plane to Colorado. He arrives in full uniform but with Lt. rank on. Gets off the plane and uses the government transportation to get on base. He doesn't have an ID but shit he is an officer so they let him on. Then he stayed at the inprocessing barracks without paperwork because hell, he is an officer. Stays there for weeks. He goes walking to the PX and comes across a woman with a flat tire. He helps her change it out and she invites him over for dinner. There he meets her husband and their kids then convinces them that he is waiting for housing and they let him live with them for a month. He cleans the house and babysits the kids. One time he went to this guys unit and chewed a supply sergeant out to help the guy he was living with. The only reason this came to light is because of one phone call he made to his mother from the inprocessing barracks. She became worried about him and called them. His mother let the people know he was not in the military. After that the search began. I was in MPI and got to pick him up. He gave me a straightforward statement and was genuinely nice. I just remember sitting on the office couch with him watching TV waiting for him to get transferred from my custody. I told him that I was genuinely impressed and that after what ever happens to him, happens, that he could get it together and do well. He wasn't the brightest kid but damn he had balls. I guess that is what it really takes.
11. Exsoulja recalls the shadiest person involved with a sweepstakes other than the people who actually run the sweepstakes.
Suspect would go door to door saying he was with Publishers Clearing House. He would tell people they were one of several finalist. He then explained he would need their name, date of birth, and social security number to verify who they were. After that, he would ask what hours they weren't home so they could ensure if the victim won the prize, they would be home. Naturally, he would break into their homes when they weren't home and steal all their valuables. To top it off, he would steal their identity and open a bunch of credit card / payday loans in their names afterwards. After over 50 cases, I finally caught the guy. Made off with over a half million dollars in 3 months before he was caught.
12. The criminal faced by Ncsululu probably spent more on his movie-level heist gear than he procured during the heists.
When I was an officer we had a guy hitting businesses in the area on an irregular basis. This guy was very much a criminal like you see in the movies.
He would scope out businesses for an unknown amount of time. When it was time for him to rob them he'd pick a weak point of entry on the roof or an exterior wall. The man would break in through the roof or an exterior wall and repel into the business wearing a mask, body armor, a large backpack with a heavy-duty drill and a firearm on his hip. He always planned it so he repelled or entered in the immediate area of the safe and drilled into the safe to steal its contents. He'd then gather all of his stuff and take off having stolen the contents of the safe. We were always a few minutes off from catching him. I left the department a short time later. I have no idea if he was caught. It was never on the news.
13. NSWPF wasn't impressed by the cleverness as much as he was the dedication for something that wasn't really worth the effort.
I once detained a man for shop lifting and found 17 packs of Tic Tacs he had stuffed inside a stitched up wound around his kidney. He was off his face in drugs so he didn't feel it but it was disgusting
14. A police officer named antilefty caught the most by-the-book criminal possible. As in he literally had a book.
I arrested the same dude for about a year for different crimes. He eventually stopped getting caught, and I saw him one day walking around with the penal code book.
15. We're living in an era of engrossing TV, as the cop husband of megerrolouise will attest.
My husband is a police officer. There was a guy with a warrant for his arrest, and every time the police showed up they could never find him. I mean, they saw him go into the house, went to search it, and he was gone.
Turns out he had taken the guts out of his huge TV and hid inside of it every time the police showed up. He only got caught bc a friend got mad and told the police where to look.