Police Share The Smartest Criminal They’ve Ever Encountered

Most criminals that the police have to deal with are, for lack of a better word, morons. However, there exists a small group of criminals that are very different. News reports and documentaries pop up everywhere because we’re not used to them. These are the criminals where, if they were to get away with something, most people might even be convinced that they earned it.

They’re the kind of criminals that institutions like the F.B.I. were assembled to protect us against. These criminals are equal parts evil and genius. Recently, police were asked to share their accounts of the smartest criminals they’ve ever encountered. What resulted was a massive exposé of the criminals who were almost smart enough to never get caught. Almost. 

Don’t forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!

#1 I Plead Crazy

I worked with this one guy who had a lengthy record. He had a system for getting released if he ever got caught. After committing a crime, if the police were in pursuit and he knew he was about to be cornered, he would act insane. His girl would play along with it, telling the police that he was off his medication. The police would arrest him but then send him to a mental ward with papers instructing the ward to release him to police once he was cleared.

Once he was in the mental ward, he would cause a distraction that would make the person attending the desk with the file cabinet to leave. He would then crawl to the file cabinet, look for his “release to police” papers, and then literally eat the papers. When the psych evaluators decided that he was stable enough to be released, there would be no instructions to send him to the police, and he would be released to the general public. He did this about ten times until police officers noticed him back on the streets. This stunt forced the state to change its procedure for detaining mentally unstable suspects.


#2 Self-Made Mailman

My favorite case involved a guy who stole a post office mailbox off the street, repainted it, and then put it next to the night deposit box at a bank. He hung an out-of-order sign on the deposit box, which led all the businesses to drop off their deposits in the mailbox. He must have felt on top of the world for a little while, but when we caught him, he was faced with hefty fines and a couple of years in federal prison.


#3 Next-Level Dumpster Diving

A guy I went to high school with had been stealing from Walmart in a pretty clever way. He would grab video games, MP3 players, beer etc. and throw them away in a trashcan in the garden section. The workers never checked the trash contents and he would just wait, sometimes for five hours, until they emptied the trash in the back dumpster. He’d then hop in to get his items.

One time, he took a cardboard box from a display inside and filled it with video games, a PS3, and extra controllers. He grabbed some tape and pens and drew all over the box, then taped it up to make it look used and tossed it. An hour later, he had a whole new PS3 and stack of games. He got caught one day by an employee who was taking out the trash at the end of his shift and saw him dumpster diving behind the building.


#4 The Olden Days Of Supermarket Security

I heard about one person who pulled a shoplifting scam on a large, popular, and well known U.S. retail store. He walked in with some cheap nylon product to get one of those “I walked in with this” stickers they used to put on returning merchandise. The sticker easily peeled off the product undamaged. They walked to the electronics department, grabbed an expensive box off the shelf and went to customer service.

He placed the sticker on the big box and asked if they could return the item without a receipt. “Unfortunately, no. Not without the original receipt,” the worker told him. Customer service even gave the doorman the thumbs up, having just interacted with the customer. This took place before widespread inventory controls and cameras were absolutely everywhere.


#5 Technically In The Hospital

There’s one guy I recently dealt with who is on parole. I stopped him in my city after he was looking to buy illicit substances. I issued him a warning and let him go as it’s pretty common and he sang like a bird about the people he was trying to buy from. Anyway, the next day, I got a call from his parole officer who says he was alerted about a guy who was pulled over. He wanted to verify that it was his guy.

I was a little confused at first, but he went on to say that the day before, he was scheduled to meet with him but he had an excuse and bailed. His excuse was that he was in the hospital. Well, when he spoke with him the following day, he was able to provide documentation that he had entered the hospital on day one and had left on day two. I had stopped him at 1:15 in the morning and after looking at the picture, it was 100% him.

Turns out, the guy had checked in then out of the hospital on day one, then in and out again on day two. He then rearranged half the paperwork to make it look like he was in the hospital overnight, which would make it appear like I mixed him up with someone else as well as give him a valid excuse to miss their meeting. Not sure what’s gonna happen to that guy, but I thought it was pretty clever.


#6 You Wouldn’t Believe How Many People Like This There Are

This was in the late ’90s. A guy in my dorm came to school solely to deal illicit substances. He took out student loans, registered for a bunch of 300-person freshman survey courses where he would never be missed, then literally never went to class. All he did was go to raves, concerts, and keggers. After the first semester, he was suspended. He wrote the usual “I was young and dumb and in over my head” sob story, and got put on probation for a semester.

At the end of the year, he was kicked out and he didn’t care. He made something like, $150,000, in return for about $8,000 in student loans to cover a year of housing and tuition. As far as I know, he was never caught. It may have been a short-sighted maneuver in the long run, but in the short run, it seemed fairly genius to effectively use federal loans to start his illegal side business.


#7 To Be A Smart Thief, You Must First Pretend You’re A Dumb Thief

I was working in a home improvement store when I was younger. This guy came in, went to the snow blowers, took one and went to the return desk. He said he wanted to return it but had no receipt. They told him he needed a receipt, so he said, “Okay, I’ll be back.” He wheeled the snow blower off to his car through the front door. He did this a few times apparently. A couple of places even helped him load it “back” into his car.


#8 Walmart Heist Is Never Fully Realized

There was a guy in the UK that gained notoriety for an audacious plan. Basically, this guy and his two accomplices went to the supermarket in three separate cars. Person one and two went into the supermarket individually and bought a large number of goods, from a memorized list. Person One paid for the goods and said something a bit flirty to the girl working the register.

He left the supermarket and dumped the cart next to one of the cars before heading back in. Person Three loaded up that cart into the car and drove away. Person One returned to the supermarket and picked up a packet of razor blades. On the way back to the register, he picked up Person Two’s cart, which had been loaded with identical items to the first cart and dumped in an aisle.

Person Two had already left the supermarket by then, and Person One now has everything he needs to go back to the same register, flirt again with the same lady, explain he forgot the razor blades, then pay for them. If anyone were to suspect that he had not paid for the groceries, he would have a receipt in his pocket with the correct items, an appropriate time and date, a member of staff that remembered him, and all the evidence in his favor. All three people in the scheme remained separate but wore identical clothes.

The big giveaway to this scam was that the first cart would have been put into carrier bags, so the second cart would look different, but now the UK charges for carrier bags and assumes you will bring canvas bags and reuse them, so it’s completely normal to leave the supermarket with unbagged goods and put the items into the bags that you have in the trunk of your car.


#9 If You’re Going To Be Smart, Be Smart All The Way

This guy wanted to rob a jeweler on our city’s main street. He found out the flat beside the jeweler’s was empty, so he hid there. For two weeks, he triggered the alarm on purpose several times a night, which was a massive headache for the police and the business. They’d turn up to see nothing there, as well as nothing on cameras, and think it was just a fluke.

Eventually, the jeweler turned off the alarm system and said they’d wait until the morning to get a new one installed. As soon as the police left, the guy tore down the wall (he’d already been working on this apparently) and robbed the place, taking his sweet time. He escaped without anyone noticing anything for hours. He then tried to re-sell the jewels, but they all had a serial number on them and he got caught. Not that smart after all. Good effort though.


#10 Plead The Fifth

Anyone who immediately requests a lawyer, prior to questioning, is a mastermind. That’s the smartest thing you can do if you committed a crime (in most scenarios). If you speak with me and confess, you’re out of luck. If you speak with me and lie, you’re out of luck. If you say nothing at all… there’s a chance I’m out of luck.


#11 Better Than Being Homeless

I worked at a jail. After getting off work, I watched an ex-inmate who was homeless being released. He walked over to a patrol car, looked me in the eye, and the elbowed the window in. He was walked back to the entrance and booked himself in again. It was middle of January. He didn’t want to get too cold. Better than being homeless, I guess.


#12 How Would You Even Fall For That?

A French thief who spent ten years in prison became a comedian when he got out. One of his stories: He found a building, went in, chose a floor and TRANSFORMED the exit door into an extra apartment. He put an apartment number, fake lock and welcome rug on the door. He then listed his iPhone for sale. When a person came to buy it, he opened the door in a shower robe and said, “Give me one second, I’m just going to count the money.” Then poof! He was gone from the exit stairs.


#13 Demolition And Entering

I had a guy use a sledgehammer to smash his way through a wall at a Best Buy and steal a bunch of phones and cameras. He was smart enough to wear gloves and a face mask., as well as to not touch anything he didn’t have to. The alarms didn’t go off until he exited out the back door. He was probably a few miles away before we got dispatched to it. He clearly scoped out the area before doing his deed too. Smart dude.


#14 Leverage Your Foreign Power

A friend of my brother moved to Israel where, for a period of time, it was acceptable to drive with an American driver’s license. He was pulled over for speeding and, when asked for his license, he gave the officer his Costco card. The exchange apparently went something like this:

Officer: “Costco? What is Costco?”

Friend: “It’s the state I’m from.”

Officer: “That sounds made up.”

Friend: “There are lots of states you probably haven’t heard of. Have you heard of Arkansas? How about Idaho?”

Officer: “I guess not…”

Friend: “Well, I’m from the small state of Costco.”

The officer didn’t have a response and wound up writing the ticket to someone with a Costco driver’s license. He framed the ticket and still has it hanging on his wall.


#15 Smooth Criminal

I was an RA in college. My university owned all the houses adjacent to campus. These were run like dorms, complete with RAs and the same rules which included a very strict no adult beverages policy. It was a privilege to live in the houses, and priority was given to upperclassmen who were more likely to bend that rule because they were of age.

There was a student who went around knocking on doors saying something like, “I’m an RA and have been sen here for health and wellness checks.” She’d find their adult beverages, take them, then follow up with how she was doing them a favor by just giving them a warning. She wasn’t actually an RA and was keeping the adult beverages for herself.

The only reason she got found out was that she did it to an actual RA. The RA was male (they kept men and women housing separate) and just assumed he didn’t know her because of that. It was only later that he questioned why they had a female doing wellness checks on male housing. They did an investigation and asked other residents. The incidents dated back to two years prior. They never found out who it was.


#16 “Go Ahead. Report Me.”

There’s a country club in my town that hosts a PGA tournament every few years. They have a guy who repeatedly breaks in overnight and just lounges around eating food, all on camera. The club refuses to report it so they don’t hurt their chances of hosting the tournament. They just cover it up and let the guy do anything he wants to avoid the controversy.


#17 Doesn’t Matter Where You Get It, Copper’s Always Valuable

These guys would cut the power to electrical stations, damage the wiring, then hide waiting for the cops to show up. Once the owners of the buildings came, they would shut off the power because of the unsafe wiring that would have to be repaired in the morning. Everyone would leave for the night, then they would cut away all the non-powered wiring to get the copper.


#18 Taking Care Of Debt The Most Creative Way Imaginable

I have a nice story from insurance. There was this guy who was already in heaps of debt. Like, more than a lifetime’s worth of debt. He proceeded to file several police reports for identity theft up to the point that he got protected from financial checkups. It was a temporary measure that was given to repeated identity theft victims. At the same time, he had reported fake income to the IRS for the last couple of years to between 40 to 60 million depending on the year.

So when he applied for credit cards and loans, they were unable to check his financial credit (Due to the identity theft protection) but they checked his tax returns which showed he had a massive income. He got his loans and credit cards, emptied them out and left the country.


#19 The Elaborate Bike Scheme

I knew this guy back in the early ’80s; let’s call him Jim. He really wanted this high-powered superbike but he knew he couldn’t ever afford it, so he drove to London and scouted the area for a few days until he found that particular model parked outside a house. He went back one night with a slide hammer, pulled the lock, and stole the bike.

He got it home, put it in his garage and completely stripped it so that the only thing left was the frame and the bottom half of the engine. He dragged it into the weeds at the bottom of his garden, poured fuel over it and burned it a bit. A few weeks passed and weeds started growing over it. It’s at that point he called the cops and reported that someone had dumped a bike frame in his garden.

The cops showed up and he explained that he’d just got back from being away and found it. The cops take the frame and note down his name and address. A few days later, the cops called him and said that the bike had been stolen from London a month or so ago and that the insurance company had classed the bike as a write-off. The cops, therefore, had to dispose of it.

Because the frame was found in his garden and the insurance company didn’t want it, the cops were duty bound to ask him if he wanted to keep it, or if they should throw it. The guy told them that he’d always wanted to build a bike. He got the frame back from them, repainted it, then puts it all back together and re-registered it as a ‘q’ reg (stolen and recovered).


#20 Why Would You Ruin Something Like That

One guy would print barcodes, bring them into Home Depot and stick them on merchandise in the $100 range. When scanned, the items would come up around the $10 range. Putting random barcodes on things is super hard to notice. Another guy, his accomplice, would come in an hour later and buy the underpriced stuff. Complete plausible deniability. They would then sell the stuff on eBay.

The only reason they got caught is that the guy with the barcode printer cut the second guy out of the operation, so the second guy stole a bunch of barcodes, put them on the merchandise and paid for it immediately afterward. He then proceeded to rat on the first guy and spilled the beans they had been doing this on a weekly basis for over four years. Because we could only pin the one case on him, the burglary was dropped down to petty theft and he walked away with a few days in the county plus a small fine.


#21 A Masterful Diversion

There’s a small tourist town where I grew up that is divided in half by a big river. The only way between the two sides is over a long bridge unless you go all the way around another mountain pass. These guys called in, like, two to three bomb threats to a posh hotel on one side of the bridge. I think they even left some dummy packages.

All the police went across the bridge to do crowd control. The guys then called in a bomb threat on the bridge and started robbing stuff on the other side. The police couldn’t be positive the bomb threat was real or not. They hesitated long enough to give the thieves a head start. The thieves eventually got caught, but they almost got away with it.


#22 The Smartest Ones Don’t Get Caught

I have a friend who is no longer a criminal but committed crimes for about 15 years and never got arrested. Some of his highlights: Buying a building under a fake name, taking out huge loans against it, getting HUD money, and burning it all down. Selling fake raffle tickets to raffle off stuff he never had and never raffled. I can’t remember how many times he pulled that scam. He moved a bunch of times because people would suspect him of being a con man if he stayed at one place for too long. His dad was in jail for similar stuff. He was never even questioned by the police about anything. Now he has a family and a normal job.


#23 Make These Illicit Substances Disappear

I remember getting into a festival and seeing a magician do tricks on the people searching him to distract them from the illicit substances he had on him. It was actually a spectacular show and I’m sure he made a good profit. If the police officers knew, they’d be talking about it on here. But I doubt it. Sometimes it pays to have a good sleight of hand.


#24 Using The Cops Against Themselves

The story of the Mumbai Opera House jewelry heist probably belongs here. Sometime in 1987, a guy placed an ad in the newspaper, looking for recruits to the CBI, the investigative police agency in India. A bunch of people showed up. He’d rented an office to interview them. He selected 26 of the candidates and told them to assemble the next day near a popular jewelry shop to practice a “mock raid.” He had a fake search warrant handy.

Then, he led the guys to conduct a raid on the jewelry shop. Together they collected all the jewelry in the shop, took all the cash, and then he asked the “trainees” to keep a watch on the shop employees while he “deposited” the stuff. He then walked out and disappeared. It took half an hour for someone to suspect something wrong and call the actual police. They never caught the guy.


#25 Pro Tip: Don’t Brag To Strangers

One guy noticed that his bank vault had space at the 90-degree point where the wall meets the other wall. He went in on a Friday, climbed in and hid in that spot. He had actually rented out a box which he put an alarm in to see if there were sound sensors in the vault. He waited outside and heard nothing.

Employees closed the vault with him inside. He basically had the whole weekend to loot. He knocked the locks out with a hammer one at a time and stole everything. He replaced the locks back to make it look like they were not tampered with and jumped back into the spot. On Monday morning, the vault was open. It turned out, the bank was doing renovations. He picked that day. He threw on a workers jacket and literally walked out of the bank.

Employees did not notice until the first person who came to open his safety deposit box saw the lock fall in. They could not identify who did it, but he ended up ruining his own chances of getting away. He was a hairdresser and kept telling his customers how he stole from the bank. Someone snitched on him and he was picked up. They could not value what he stole as safety box contents are unknown.

Because of this guy, all banks now fill the space where the two safety cabinets meet with concrete. They made a movie, Inside Man, loosely based on him. His name was William Smarto.


#26 Nobody Expects The Tiny Dude In The Suitcase

I wouldn’t call this the smartest thing ever, but it was pretty amusing and clever. A while back, there was a series of thefts along the bus lines in my country. People’s belongings went missing from one city to the next, and nobody had any idea what was happening as things were presumably safe in the storage compartments at the bottom of the buses.

What happened? Apparently, there were two guys, one of whom was really small. The big guy would put the little guy in a suitcase, buy a ticket to somewhere, load him up with the rest of the luggage, and enjoy the ride. The little guy would go out, steal people’s electronics, jewelry, cameras, and whatnot, then return to his suitcase until the ride was over.


#27 Why Dodge Alarms When You Can Just Cut The Power?

There was an incident in Fargo, North Dakota, where a guy wanted to steal electronics equipment. The store had plenty of alarms on it and generally, cutting an alarm will trigger it. So instead, he cut ALL the alarms. This was before cellphones were really widespread and alarms were usually just connected to the phone line.

He found nine access points to one big trunkline. It was massive, with thick copper cables of tens of thousands of lines running through them. He cut through the whole thing with a circular saw, knocked out phone service to most of the town and robbed an audio store during the ensuing chaos. There were no leads until a tip came in from another town where he’d pulled something similar.

They hadn’t been able to pin that to him, but they had strong suspicions that he was behind it and simply relocated to Fargo after he committed the deed. So the cops paid him a visit. He refused to let them in because they didn’t have a warrant, so the cops left to get one without leaving anyone to watch him. When they came back, he was long gone and they found the saw coated in copper dust, as well as a lot of the stolen stuff.

He was in the wind for a while but even after he got caught he had another card to play. While being transported between prisons, he used a key he’d made to unlock his shackles and climbed out the roof vent of the bus.


#28 Good Old-Fashioned Bank Robbery

Twenty years ago, a guy on Australia’s Gold Coast got away with a bank robbery in broad daylight. He cased the bank for a while and discovered a pattern of behavior involving the bank manager. He would arrive about 30 minutes before anyone else each morning and leave the front doors unlocked so staff could help themselves in without a key.

One morning, the crook dressed himself up for a busy day of office work and waited for the bank manager to arrive. As the manager was unlocking the doors, he made his move, entering the building and threatening the manager with a weapon. He got all the details he needed to access the vault, then he tied the manager up and stuffed him in his office.

When the staff arrived he told them that the manager had called in sick and that the regional office had sent him in to do the open shop thing. No one batted an eyelid. This bank had a small walk-in vault that normally only held about $50,000 on any given day, but the crook had timed his robbery for the morning after banking day when all the local small businesses would make their end-of-week deposits. As a result, he reportedly got a score of close to $250,000.

Once the vault was open, he pulled his weapon out and invited all the staff to enter the vault so he could lock them in. By this stage, the bank was due to be open, so when he went to leave, there were a number of customers waiting to get inside to do their banking. He told them all that there had been an issue with the computers and that the tech team had estimated it would take about 30 minutes before the issue would be resolved. Then, he got into his car, drove straight to the airport and flew to Hong Kong.

To my knowledge, the cops never caught him. They knew he’d have had to leave most of the stolen money in Australia because you can only take $10,000 AUD in cash in any currency out of the country before customs pulls you into their interview rooms. The assumption was that he had to have an accomplice in Australia who would funnel the money to him slowly over time.


#29 Permanent Test Drive

A guy I worked named Dave with told me this story: He was working at a Mercedes dealership, just sitting at his desk when this well-dressed gentleman came in and asked if he could test drive a specific car that was parked out front. It was also a busy day. Usually, they are allowed to let people test drive by themselves after they have taken some form of a deposit or something (maybe an official ID).

So Dave gives out the keys, and the guy goes on his test drive. He comes back a reasonable amount of time later. This was about closing time, even possibly on a Friday. Everything was in order. Fast forward to the next business day. Dave’s boss walks in and realizes that one of the Mercedes out front is gone. Dave had to explain that the car was returned and that they have the key and everything. Turns out, the criminal didn’t test drive, he drove somewhere to create a replica of the key and gave that replica back to the desk. He kept the real key.


#30 Yet Another Reason Blockbuster Should’ve Never Closed Down

I remember some thieves would go and trigger the alarm of a vacant Blockbuster after they all started closing down. They did this for two weeks straight, so I guess the cops became convinced that this was a false alarm going off at the exact same time every night. At some point, they stopped rushing to investigate.

One day, we found out that the pharmacy next to the Blockbuster was broken into through the wall they shared. Not only that, but there was only one tiny section in the wall that wasn’t covered in shelves and panels. The thieves had to know exactly which part of the Blockbuster wall to break through. I’m still pretty impressed by the heist these junkies managed to pull off.


#31 Weightloss Program For The Incarcerated

Having worked as a Disciplinary Officer in corrections, I’ve always been amazed at the ingenuity of inmates. The most common problem lies in the follow up of the crimes they commit. Our department received a call one night regarding three of our inmates walking down a street a short distance away from our jail. The three were caught quickly (they were still wearing their stripes). However, upon doing a roster check, it was discovered there was still one missing.

He was caught about a month later. So, the ingenuity was more in how they escaped. They were housed in one of our maximum security tiers. After lockdown, there is really only one way out of the cell. There is a very narrow window in each cell overlooking the yard (this was never really seen as a viable escape risk as they were so narrow one would have to be really skinny to even attempt to try to squeeze through). Due to lack of staffing, our guard tower stayed unmanned, so they took note of that.

They spent a year losing weight and observing the officers that worked the tier, taking note of which ones were lax in their duties. They loosened one of the windows, and when they finally reached a weight where they could all fit through, they took their opportunity. The officer on duty that night was so lax he didn’t notice that four men entered a two-man cell at lockdown. Not just that, he didn’t do a roster check at lockdown. So they got out and used a mattress to climb over the razor wire.

The problem is they didn’t have a good strategy for after they escaped. The one that was out the longest was probably the smartest, as he decided to part ways with the three who felt like it was a good idea to walk on a street in their prison stripes. But, he had no real plan either. He spent his time living in people’s fishing camps when they weren’t around. He was caught when one of the campers surprised him.


#32 Don’t Mind Us, Just Robbing This Car Here

My friend’s older brother and his friends used to rob cars. They never did it anywhere except for movie theaters. They’d take their girlfriends (two guys, two girls), wait in their car, and hang out until they saw a really fancy car come by. They’d wait until the driver left, then use a center punch to knock out the driver’s window and push it into the seat in one piece. Immediately they’d open the doors (and cut the alarm wires if there was an alarm going off), and just start hanging out.

Then they’d proceed to just clean out the car. Usually amps, subs, speakers, etc. right in broad daylight. They’d close the doors and then leave. They did this for a year or two before eventually getting caught. A father was waiting for his kids to come out and saw the entire process happen. They did some time. It was one of the smartest, stupidest things I’d ever heard about.


#33 Hannibal Lecter, Minus The Cannibalism

The smartest prisoner I’ve encountered was also the only legitimate psychopath I’ve known. A young, charming, attractive woman who was a borderline genius when it came to the law. Some people waste time while locked up. She didn’t. Every night was spent studying law books religiously instead of just lounging around.

For those unaware, US inmates are granted access to a law library to work their cases. In the course of a couple of years, she ditched her personal lawyer and started representing herself, successfully. She started writing motions, appeals and making a killing doing the same for other inmates. If there was a technicality to be found, she found it. I imagine these are the kind of folks that end up as corporate lawyers.

While incarcerated, she always had a steady stream of illicit substances, even while in isolation. She’d instigate officers and inmates alike, create a situation, then bring a case. You had to document everything with this girl. When you’re accused of misconduct and cannot prove beyond any doubt otherwise, you become a liability. Several good officers were terminated during her stay. Requests to transfer her to other detention centers in the state were denied as no one was willing to take her. She ended up successfully dodging prison and was sent to a treatment center.


#34 Without Proof, You Have Nothing

I stopped a guy at night and he willingly pulled over. He was Mr. Nice and had an answer for everything. His mistake was he left night vision on the dash, which gave me grounds to search. He had a perfect tool kit for high-end breaks, radios to reach others in the act, thermal suits, etc. His lawyer turned up to interview and the offense of going equipped never stood a chance. He was released.

On his way out, he joked that he hadn’t been stopped in ten years… He even complimented me on being proactive and observant. His record showed loads for burglary, then nothing since 2002. Two months later, a camouflaged server site down the road was hit, and $1.5 million in kit went. Police didn’t even know it was there. ISP had no idea why the alarms didn’t go off.


#35 Impersonation Never Fails

A couple of guys came into my old work and stole a grand piano. It was never played, so the boss decided to sell it off. He had arranged for a company to come by and lift the piano. Considering the number of people who come in and out of our workplace, someone must have caught wind of the plans for the piano. Come lifting day, a Luton van came in and two guys in hi-vis vests got out. They mentioned they had come by to pick up the piano.

They took a good 15 minutes to get the piano out of the building and into the van, and even members of staff assisted them. They jumped in the van and sped off. No one thought any different and didn’t sign anything to say the piano had been handed over. About 40 minutes later, another Luton van turns up; the real one. A lot of confusion ensued.

Long story short, the guy who bought the piano never got his piano.


#36 Gentlemen, Release The Pigeon

My dad told me a story about a crew of shoplifters who would go into expensive tailors and release a pigeon. While everyone was fussing over trying to capture the pigeon, they would help themselves to a few suits. This was before the days of security cameras, so seems like it could have happened. They often targeted smaller shops too, so the commotion would look more distracting.


#37 The Dealership Who Cried Wolf

There was this one guy named Jack who stole stuff. His heists often involved a lot of people. One time, he was planning to steal a whole bunch of cars, all luxury cars. He got his people to call 911 from all different places and tell them that some car theft was taking place. He also only used a few people each time, so it was different voices, people, locations, etc. The police went each time and eventually, after having no luck, they declared the calls just false alarms. When he actually did the crime, NO ONE came. He was never caught.


#38 There Goes The Entire IT Department

My primary school got robbed of all their new computers when I was a kid. They were so proud of their new computer lab and made a big celebration of it (this was in the dial-up days). The guys managed to jimmy a window enough to get a stick through and wave it around in front of the motion sensors until they set the alarms off. Of course, the police were notified straight away and the thieves hid.

When the cops arrived, there would be no sign of forced entry and nothing was missing. It looked like a faulty alarm. They continued this cycle until the cops stopped responding. Then they were free to empty the place out and no one found out until the computer lab teacher unlocked the door the next morning.


#39 Being An Imposter Is Easier Than It Sounds

There was a guy who was in a local crime organization run by the Irish. He had a fake FBI badge, and he flashed it everywhere when he was around cops. He would sometimes give wrong tips to the cops, leading them in the wrong directions, then he would quickly leave the scene and act as if he had to do something important.

The guy would be involved with smuggling and carjacking, but the second cops arrived on the scene, he would just flash his badge, making it seem as if he just got there before them. Apparently, this only worked for a few months. Finding out that the “FBI guy they worked with” was actually a member of the mob was the most embarrassing moment in their department’s history.


#40 Why Would Anyone Steal That?

Years ago, my mom worked at a Macy’s that had a few thefts. A guy would walk out with stuff like a surfboard the mannequins were posed with and such. No one thought to stop him until after he left because the store didn’t sell those items. I guess people assumed he was just someone who was paid to rotate which props were in the store.


#41 Make Sure Your Technicalities Work Before Risking Jail Time

A couple of years ago, this man went into a bank near me with a note while he was recording the bank teller. He didn’t bring a weapon or a mask and the note was asking for money with ‘please’ written somewhere. She complied and he walked out. She then called the cops. When he was arrested, he tried to get out of it by saying he never robbed her. He just “asked for money” and she handed it over. “She could have said no,” he said. He got three years in prison. He was smart but not smart enough.


#42 The Most Terrifying Bank Robbery Here

Back in the ’90s, I worked for a BofA branch in a very wealthy community. It always held at least $250,000 in the safe, and often upwards of one million. Many citizens with large businesses banked there and many state agencies also brought in massive cash deposits from state parks. This branch was also somewhat isolated from surrounding areas, with only one road into and out of town, which theoretically made a bank robbery difficult because the cops could easily block the exit route.

Anyway, the manager told me of a story of a previous robbery. Apparently, some guy had found out the names and home addresses of the branch manager, teller manager, and merchant teller. He went to their homes and took photos. He also followed other family members to find where they worked and went to school. Presumably, this was over a long course of time.

One day, he showed up at the branch dressed in coveralls and a large mechanics toolbox on a cart. Basically, he looked like he was there to fix something. He sat down and pulled out a folder with a brief letter on it stating this was a robbery. He included photos of the homes and family members. He threatened to have his accomplices injure them if they did not comply. The manager called over the teller manager and merchant tellers to explain what was going on.

They all went into the safe and he loaded his cart with plastic wrapped cash bricks. He then wheeled it out, loaded it into a truck, and drove away. Police found the truck a few days later, and it was stolen but now empty. The total haul was $1.2 million. As far as I know, he was never caught.


#43 How To Prove You Weren’t Drunk: Drink Even More

I heard a story at school about this man who was driving tipsy and caused a pretty serious car accident downtown. The accident just so happened to have occurred near a gas station, so the man quickly left his car, ran to the gas station, bought a six-pack of beer, and downed two of them. Once the cops arrived, he showed them the receipt, proving that he had just purchased the beers to “cope with the trauma of the accident.” The cops had no proof that he had actually been drinking and driving.


#44 He Could Be Stealing Worse, I Guess

This burger joint I used to frequent had this notorious thief who was obviously mentally ill. He would steal bags of burgers late at night. I mean, the guy would dress up as an actual burglar, yet he would get off every single time. No jail, no community service, nothing. He wasn’t all there but he certainly knew how to play the game.


#45 Long Distance Stealing

This one was a beauty. The culprits set up a premium phone number that costs $5 a minute or more to call. They then went about a highrise building in New York, pretending to be delivery men with a package. At the reception, they told the staff that they didn’t have a name on the package, so they asked to use their phone (this was before mobile phones). They dialed the phone premium number, waited a bit, then walked away without hanging up. They did this for weeks and ended up making millions. The best part is that it would have taken years for anyone to know that a crime had even taken place. They never did get caught because they were smart enough to stop once technology got better.