There are two types of criminals: the ones who actually know what they're doing, and the ones who are complete screw-ups. The latter type can sometimes be the more entertaining of the two, as they often make stupid decisions that make you wonder, "Why are you a criminal in the first place?"
The worst type of criminals are the ones who might have gotten away with their crimes if they had only kept their mouths shut. Whether you're considering a life of crime or simply want to be entertained, read on to learn what not to do when in a potential 'gotcha' situation.
Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!
#1 Know What You Can Be Arrested For
I had a car pass me once where the passenger had half of his body out of the window. He had been screaming, "Screw the police," along with other profanities. I chased him down for committing a seatbelt violation. I got behind the car and ran the registration to find that it had expired and the driver's license was also suspended.
I stopped the car, and they both started with the ‘free speech’ thing, saying how I couldn't punish them for swearing out of their windows, which was 100% correct. But when I pointed out that I could stop them for not wearing their seatbelts and for having a registration violation, suddenly they got quiet. The driver got arrested for a suspended license and the passenger got himself a citation.
The driver's vehicle later got impounded. Moral of the story? Tell your passengers to shut their mouths. Had that guy not been an idiot, his buddy would have been homeward bound.
#2 He Even Told You
I'm a public defender. One time, I had a client who made a long statement that didn’t help her case. The judge was already letting her go without setting bail. However, before leaving the courtroom, I was informed that police from another precinct were on their way to pick her up and that she’d be held until they did.
They didn’t get her until much later, but I told her to absolutely not say anything to them. The next day, I went to do her arraignment and I got the notice of her statements, which started with, “My lawyer told me not to say anything, but this is what happened...” She basically admitted to her crimes then and there. It was frustrating, to say the least.
#3 Why Would You Tell Them That?
This house in my local village was notoriously known as a gang den. The police came to search the place but couldn't find anything. As they were leaving, the lovely owner told them that they "should've brought the dogs!" Well, that's what they did—they came back a few days later with dogs and found huge stashes of illicit substances hidden away. Absolute idiots.
#4 If He Had Just Been Quiet...
The guy told the officer: “I have caffeine pills in my back pocket." He got them out, put them on the hood, and everyone was chill... until the guy suddenly broke and confessed what the pills actually were. The officers looked at each other and one of them said, “Do we even have a test kit for that?” The other officer said, “Yep.” The guy should have just kept his mouth shut.
#5 Just Let The Cops Deal With It
In my home town, a woman pulled off the highway with another car that a cop initially intended to pull over. She mentioned to the cop that she wanted to have a few words with the other vehicle because they were being jerks and trying to race her. The officer told her that it would be both unsafe and illegal if she got out of her vehicle like that on the side of the highway, but she didn't listen.
As the cop proceeded to speak with the other vehicle, she remained parked there while yelling out of her window at the other vehicle. The cop then went to write up the speeding ticket and the woman got out of her car, approaching the other vehicle. He finally cuffed her and put her in the squad car, and all the while, she was complaining that it was so unfair.
#6 Watch The Sass
Not a police officer, but my mom once managed to talk her way into a lesser fine for a traffic offense. She still wasn't satisfied with that, so managed to sass her way right back into the full fine. I don't know what she was thinking—she had already achieved what she wanted, but she just had to keep running her big mouth.
#7 Honesty Worked (But Just This Once)
My boyfriend was working overnight when a guy came through the town doing 35 mph in a 25 mph zone. My boyfriend pulled the guy over and asked for his documentation (license, registration, insurance). The guy flipped open his glove box, snatched the documents out and snapped the glove box back up super fast. My boyfriend laughed and said, "What do you have in there?"
The guy got a little sheepish and said, "You know, registration, insurance, a few illicit substances..." My boyfriend laughed again and said, "Seriously? Can I see?" The guy got a slap on the wrist for being honest and having a very small amount. In this case, honesty worked in the criminal's favor (though he probably wouldn't have gotten written up for the illicit substances if he had just kept his mouth shut).
#8 Bad Defense
We had a DUI accident where a guy kept driving straight into the woods and into a tree because his GPS was predicting a future street. He walked back to his hotel room and left his check-in papers in the car. When we knocked on the door, he did not have to answer... but he did. He was clearly intoxicated. I asked him if he had anything to drink since the accident.
Legally, he did not have to answer, but he said, “No, I haven’t had anything to drink since the accident.” Where I’m from, you have 24 hours to report to a property-damage-only accident. The funniest part was that he told me he was a lawyer as I was locking him up. I told him, “I hope you’re not a defense attorney.” In his defense, he was intoxicated when he said that.
#9 Take Care Of Your Kids
A cousin of a friend of mine travels around the state to take in deadbeat dads. He got to one place where a 4-year-old kid was home but the dad wasn't. So the cop started talking to the kid, making sure he was okay and such. After a bit of this, the kid said to the cop, "Want to see my dad's secret garden?" He took him to a closet with a false back and opened it up to a small illegal operation. The guy came home to a few cop cars and some charges.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
Stories that matter — delivered straight to your inbox.
#10 You Can Say No
I’ve had countless times where guys gave me consent to search them or the vehicles and they ended up having illicit substances on them. It baffles me why they would let me search them knowing they could get caught for possession.
#11 Stick To The Truth
I was the one that might have gotten away with it, but the cop pulled me over and said, "I clocked you going 86." "Actually, I was going 85. I had the cruise control on." "Yeah, that's still over the posted speed limit of 75 mph." "Oh. Yeah, I guess it is." I know what I'm about son, don't try to tell me I was going faster.
#12 Didn't Even Have To Work For The Confession
When I was in high school, I liked to park beside cars that had parked poorly, just to mess with the drivers. One time, I was at a high school football game and a Jeep had parked terribly He was nearly halfway into the spot next to him and parked at an angle. I was driving a 98’ Chevy Silverado (a big old pickup truck) at the time and I had my brother help guide me into the spot so I was perfectly in the lines. I parked in a way that made the driver door completely impossible to get in.
I took a picture, for the novelty of it, and went on my way. When I got back to my car, the Jeep was gone and every panel on the passenger side of my car was keyed. There was an officer nearby so I told him about it and showed him the picture. He told me there was not a lot they could do because there were no witnesses, but he’d give it a shot. He looked up their license plate, called them and asked them if they had done it. They confessed and ended up having to pay $1,600 in restitution along with getting a felony.
#13 Too Obvious
A friend of mine was pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt while he was with a few buddies. He got handed his ticket, and the guy in the back seats said, “Am I gonna get a ticket too?” The officer replied, “Well, were you wearing your seatbelt?” “Uhh, no..” “Alright, can I see your ID?” Not the brightest guy.
#14 Don't Pretend
I pulled over a guy for expired tags and asked for his ID. He started feeling around for his wallet and said he couldn't find it.
He said, "Ah man, I'm one of you, it's cool."
"Oh, what department?"
"Oh, actually I'm a security guard, but the same thing."
"So where's your ID?"
"Oh it's in the..." and he motioned to the trunk.
"It's in the trunk?"
My suspicion radar was going off. "Okay, do you want to get your ID out of the trunk?"
"Nah, I don't have it."
He started looking around for another story to use. But I knew he wanted me nowhere near his trunk. He also stopped giving me any more information. "No ID? Okay then, I have to take you in and get you fingerprinted." I was going to get into that trunk one way or another. He looked lost. I asked him what was in the trunk, but he was not talking anymore.
We pulled him out and got him in cuffs. Another officer took him to get fingerprinted. Since his car was expired past 6 months (California), we towed the car. In the process of getting ready to tow the car, we needed to take a quick inventory. In the trunk was a "police" uniform with fake patches and a metal badge. No weapon, but a duty belt.
This was a guy who had been wanted for several weeks in a neighboring city. His MO was to dress as a police officer, talk to kids and, well, you can figure out the rest. If he just gave me his name, I could have looked up his ID and verified he had one. I'd probably have let him go.
#15 And You Know That How?
I was working a trial of a guy accused of a robbery. His defense was that it was a case of mistaken identity, that somebody else did it. When the prosecution called a witness, he became visibly upset and started to yell at his defense attorney, "They can't call that guy to testify against me!" "Why not?" the attorney said. "He can't possibly identify me, he wasn't there!" Whoops!
#16 Keep Your Mouth Shut
I pulled a guy over because his car was looking pretty run down. I wanted to lecture him that he shouldn't be driving around at night with only half his lights working. I approached the driver side window and he looked at me, saying: "Yeah alright, I admit it, I'm tipsy." Alrighty then. I wanted to give him another chance. "What? We know your lights are broken." "No! I'm tipsy." Cue eye roll.
#17 At Least It Wasn't Drugs?
A fellow officer stopped a car for a turn violation. The guy was a wannabe dealer who had been seen around the bars before. We asked him permission to search his car. He agreed. I was chatting with him about sports and the weather when the officer found a duffle bag. So I joked and said, “Nothing in there that’s dangerous right? Like bombs or grenades or explosives?”
He nodded and said, “Yeah, a bunch of dynamite.” I was waiting for him to laugh or smile, but nothing. So I said, “I’m going to open the bag and look, okay?” It was eight sticks of dynamite he stole from a construction site, which is an entirely separate story on its own. If he didn’t say anything, I would have ignored the bag thinking it was tools.
#18 Why Would He Tell You That?
I'm a nice guy and I enjoy a chat. You'd be surprised how much this lowers someone's guard. While standing in full uniform, people will just start telling me things that could get them in trouble. Multiple times, I had to tell people to shut up. It was usually petty things like where they hid their stash. Not really worth the time and effort to deal with, considering how squeezed we already were. One time, a guy really got himself in trouble by effectively telling me he had stolen property on him. I had to act on that one.
My buddy, who's a cop, has had countless moments where he’s tried to give people a break. All they had to do was sit down and be quiet, but they would always end up talking themselves into jail. Recently, a guy he pulled over was going a bit over the limit. My buddy was going to let a friend pick him up instead of arresting him. The guy got to talking and basically revealed that he was driving under the influence and that it was something he did fairly regularly.
#20 Don't Forget The Tape
Some idiots from my hometown broke into a few houses in the early 2000s. Among several stolen items was a handheld video camera. They proceeded to record themselves breaking into several more houses and posing with their haul. Several of the items, including said camera, ended up at pawn shops. Well, when the battery died they didn't remove the tape. As is customary, the pawn shop found a compatible charger and watched the recordings. Copies of their fingerprints, IDs, and the video were turned into the police and these morons went to jail. Almost everything from the videos was recovered from the pawn shops in the area.
#21 Never Antagonize
In college, a buddy and I drove out to a house party, only for it to get busted as soon as we arrived. In an attempt to show my friend how cool I was, I started antagonizing one of the officers from the passenger seat of my buddies car that was parked on the side of the street. I told him that I would send him the address to the next party, that kind of thing.
We went back and forth until the cop asked my friend to move his car into the driveway. He asked for identification and ran my license. After about 30 minutes, he handed me a max fine for a seatbelt violation. This clever guy saw I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, so he had my friend move his car a couple of feet so he could ticket me.
#22 Good At Disappearing
I had a roommate in college who was no friend of mine. He got in a fight at a restaurant and was kicked out. He tried to go back into the restaurant but he got thrown out again, and that time, a cop happened to be driving by. The cop told him to relax or he was going to be arrested. He told the cop to arrest him. The cop handcuffed him and put him in the back of the cop car.
My roommate then started banging on the window. The cop then re-cuffed him with his hands behind his back. My roommate's stupidity carried on for the next couple of months. He was supposed to go to court over the whole thing but didn't show up. Police showed up at his job, cuffed him and brought him to court.
The judge told him he would have just received a slap on the wrist, but he now had to send him to jail for a couple of days. He was scheduled to report to jail a week or two later and he didn't show up for that either. By that time, he disappeared. I never saw the guy again.
#23 They Were Chill
During college, my friends and I would hang out outside. We would frequently invite strangers, who were passing by, to join us. One time, a group of freshman walked past and ask to join. After about 15 minutes, the campus police rolled up and the freshmen got visibly nervous. We told them to calm down since we knew the cops and they were cool with us.
As soon as the cop got out of the car, one freshman bolted and made it about 20 feet before the cop tackled him. We all clapped and heckled the kid. Upon searching him, the cop found a bunch of illicit substances, then said, “You realize prior to running, I had no reason to be suspicious. I just wanted to talk to my friends over there.” The cop ended up writing a ticket and sent him off.
#24 No Other Reason For Suspicion
A guy had a weapon inside his house. I asked if the weapon was stolen, and he said, “I’m not sure.” I asked if I could run the serial number. He agreed and handed the weapon over to me. The report came back and said it had been stolen from a department store. He was arrested for possession of a stolen weapon. All he had to do was say no. I had no grounds to run the weapon unless I had his consent.
#25 Seems Dumb Even For The Inebriated
He wouldn’t have gotten away with it, but a patron of the bar that my sister worked at many years ago was stopped by the troopers while driving along next to the highway, in the ditch. His explanation, “Officer, I’m way too intoxicated to be on the road!” The police shook their heads, arrested the man and charged him for driving under the influence.
#26 Sometimes You Win If You Don't Confess
My dad was in an army helicopter unit assigned to local police to search for illegal plants being grown in the rural parts of my state in the 1980s. One day, they found a decently-sized patch located just off the property of a farm. They landed the helicopter on the farm and talked to the farmer, asking him if he knew that someone was growing illegal plants near his property. The farmer got scared and immediately confessed that they were his plants. He was arrested by the police. Oddly enough, if the farmer haD played dumb, the army and the police would have just removed the plants and left.
#27 At Least You Took His Advice
I was getting arrested by a state trooper for stealing space in a dumpster by my house. Long story short, as he was explaining my offense to me, I started laughing (I partially thought it was a joke) and told him that if I was getting arrested for that, he better call S.W.A.T. because I put other boxes in a few other local business’ dumpsters around town throughout the week. He told me he was being serious and to shut my mouth because everything I said was incriminating. It ended with me representing myself in court. I had the comical charge thrown out but it was still an interesting experience.
I was a cop in an Air Force base in Alaska. Three guys robbed our class 6 store and we responded, but we got caught in traffic at a light on the way. We were sitting there with lights and sirens on trying to get people to move out of the way when the back door to the car ahead of us opened. Suddenly, a guy got out and went spread eagle against his trunk. Confused, we got out to see what was up and we realized they were the robbers.
#29 Not Caring Doesn't Equal Permission
A friend told me a story about when he was part of a garage band. They were jamming one night when one of his family members started fighting with her boyfriend in the house. The cops were called to deal with the altercation. They stopped playing and went outside to watch. A cop walked over to them to find out who they were.
One kid straight up admitted that he had been drinking that night. Because that wasn't what the cops were there for and he didn't see anyone drinking, he said he didn't care. The kid took that as permission to keep drinking. He went into the garage and walked back out with a beer. Now the cop cared enough to take him to jail.
#30 Why Would He Tell You That?
I'm a police officer in the UK. It was about 2 a.m., which meant the street lights were off. As I was patrolling, I saw a vehicle drive with only his side lights on. I spun around, pulled it over, and asked for his license. His co-pilot was 20 and didn't have a license, plus the vehicle didn't have L-plates. So, I got him in the back of my car to speak to him.
I started writing out a traffic ticket and was going to let him off with just that. However, as I was writing the ticket, he said to me, "I shouldn't even be driving this car, my mate doesn't even know I took it." I just paused, "I'm sorry, what?" "Yeah, my mate lives just up the road and I was at his place. He fell asleep, so I thought I'd just take the car and go for a ride."
Right. I got another unit to go to the address, and the suspect's friend confirmed the story. At that point, instead of six points and a £200 fine, he got nicked for TWOC (taking a vehicle without the owner's consent) as well. He went to court and received six points, £1000 in fines and costs, as well as an angry friend and a night, spent in a cell.
#31 Maybe In More Trouble With Mom
I was being driven around in a British police car and there were no incidents occurring. So, we simply drove around our borough, making sure everyone was safe. It was getting dark, around 5 p.m., and we saw a car without its lights on. It was a mistake everyone made, so we simply pulled up next to the vehicle and told the driver to roll down his window.
I didn't plan to give any tickets and we didn't pull the car over. We just drove next to it and activated the blue lights. Inside were four boys who all looked young; I assumed the driver probably just passed his driver's test. I asked him, "How are you going to see the road when it's this dark?" and he automatically knew what was wrong.
He turned his lights on and that would have been the end of it. However, he continued to say, "Sorry, I just got out of school. It won't happen again." One of the rear passengers also apologized. That caught my attention, I noticed he was about the same age as the driver and had a school uniform on. I asked him which school they went to.
The driver told me the name of a secondary school where the students were aged between 11 and 16. He probably got nervous and slipped up. I knew something was up. I told them to pull over and we did some checks. Long story short: The driver was 16 years old, didn't have a driver's license, and the car belonged to his mom.
#32 Silly Buddy
My buddy and I were drag racing through town late one night ("drag racing" in my used beater Buick, so speeds were low and nobody was in danger). Flashing lights lit up behind us. My buddy got pulled over and I got away clean. Later that night, we got a phone call. The officer asked my buddy: "Who's your friend?" because he didn't even get my plates.
My buddy (not great under pressure) responded by giving him my name, address, and phone number. Cue summons to traffic court for both my buddy and I. We were at the courthouse and my case was first. My buddy was subpoenaed to testify against me because he was the only witness that was present. The trial started, but the officer wasn't there.
Judge: "Were you racing that night?"
Buddy: "Yes sir. We were racing. Drag racing specifically, sir."
Judge: "And your friend here was who you were racing against?"
Buddy: "Yes sir. We were drag racing together."
Judge: "Are you sure about all that? Let me remind you that there's no plaintiff in court today, you are the only witness and what you say goes. If you say you two weren't racing, that's what I'll have to believe. So, again, are you sure that you and wknight8111 were racing?"
Buddy: "Yes sir, drag racing, sir."
That guy cost me like $500 and more than a few points on my license because he couldn't just keep his mouth shut.
#33 He Wouldn't Have Checked
Well, just today, I asked a girl: “How did you get here?” She said, “I drove.” Her license was previously revoked and I knew that. She could have lied and I wouldn’t have checked her story.
#34 What Were You Thinking?
When I was a cop, my squadmate and I were foot patrolling a nice neighborhood that was being burglarized heavily. We saw a guy walking around wearing sportswear and decided to have a chat with him to see if he had seen anything suspicious. Because we were extremely close to his house, he invited us to his home to talk.
The dummy clearly didn’t think about it enough because he had left out bags full of stolen items out on the kitchen table, as well as his burglary tools on the counter of the kitchen. After a minute, we realized the guy was breaking into his neighbor's houses and stealing their stuff. If he didn’t invite us inside, we would have never guessed he was the guy doing it.
#35 This Is Just Funny
There was a dispute between two dealers that lead to one of them being hurt with a weapon. The cops arrested the other dealer who was obviously the main suspect. In the middle of the interrogation, one of the cops said, “Listen, we know it was you. Witnesses described a man matching your description at the scene.” To which the accused dealer laughed and defiantly replied, “They were lying, I was wearing a balaclava!” The cops looked at each other, promptly left the room and started laughing. That guy will probably spend every day of his sentence thinking about that sentence.
#36 Not Words But Action
My dad pulled a guy over on Christmas Day for speeding and reckless driving. He thought he may have been intoxicated. He had him step out of the car for a sobriety test. All went well, the guy was just distracted. My dad said he didn’t want to ruin someone’s Christmas over something so small, so he decided to just let him go with a warning. As he was about to tell him to have a Merry Christmas, they guy tried to punch my dad in the face.
#37 Why The Video?
There was a motorbike robbery in my town and the criminal would have gotten away with it, but he filmed himself doing it. He even turned the camera on himself; full-face view and no disguise or anything. He got caught straight away. From what I know (as this took place a few years ago), he sent it to his friend (reportedly, to look cool or something) who snitched on him. He became forever known as the town’s dumbest criminal. And he would have gotten away with it if he kept his mouth shut.
#38 That Was Easy
My brother is a police officer. He went to a house for some domestic violence call. The guy ran to some other house, so they started looking around the neighborhood. One officer was called to a house nearby with a broken window. It didn't seem related to the domestic violence call at first. Then, the officer asked the guy who answered the door, "Sir, do you know why your window is broken?" At that moment, the guy ran and they knew it was him. The officer literally just wanted to ask if the guy knew what happened to the window. Turns out, the guy broke the window to hide in some stranger's house.
#39 Opposite Day
A party in college got busted and everyone was underage. The cops took down everyone’s names and called us all in to look for warrants. I sat down on the couch and shut up. Everyone else lined up to blow breathalyzers and all of them got underage drinking tickets. They were all pretty mad I got away with nothing.
#40 Too Much Information
This happened a few years ago. I was patrolling with my buddy at night, and it was almost the end of our shift. Suddenly, we got an alert that a local gas station had just been robbed and that the suspect was in a red car. Indeed, seconds later, we saw a man speeding through the road. We ended up catching him on a dead-end street.
When my buddy was handcuffing the suspect, I asked the suspect if he had something to do with the robbery. He repeatedly said, "I've never been there. Ask the ginger lady!" It turns out, the cashier that night was an old lady named Marcy, covering up for her ill daughter, and she had ginger hair.
The suspect basically confessed to the crime. How could he have known the appearance of the cashier if he had never been at the crime scene? The jury thought the same.
#41 But Sometimes Confessing Makes It Better
While I was in field training, I was investigating a hit and run. A lady parked her car on the street in front of her house and found it all smashed up the next morning. My Field Training Officer was like, "Yeah, these usually are hard to solve unless there's video footage or we find a smashed up car nearby." We were wrapping up and about to leave when this woman walked up to my window of the squad car and was like, "I did that, I was coming back to say I was sorry."
Case closed. She got a ticket instead of being arrested because I appreciated her honesty. She probably avoided a DUI by leaving the scene the previous evening. Apparently, she had left her friend's house at about 3 a.m. and she couldn't provide an explanation for why she slammed into a parked car on a residential street.
#42 Bragging Is Bad
My high school Economics teacher was a former cop. One time, a truck pulled up to an ATM, hooked it up to a winch and dragged it away. He said they had no idea who it was and they had zero leads. Days later, they got a call from someone telling them about a group of guys bragging about it at a party. They went and picked them all up the next day.
#43 Hey, Man, Help A Buddy Out?
My uncle is a cop. He told me a story about an intoxicated guy stealing a garden gnome. The guy was a bit further away and it was pretty late, so my uncle couldn’t really see the guy. Apparently, the gnome was really heavy, because the intoxicated guy called my uncle over and asked him to help carry the gnome to his buddies car.
#44 That Was Their First Statement?
"I know I was going 70 in a 45 but... Oh wait, forget that. That's not what happened." They then spent five minutes trying to make up for that first statement.
#45 Bad Bet
At about 3 a.m., this guy walked into the front desk and demanded to be given a breathalyzer. He came from the bar with his friends and he wanted to prove that he was not over 80. He failed the roadside breathalyzer then refused to provide a sample on video. Needless to say, his car got towed, he got arrested, and all his friends had to take an Uber home from the division.