"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 four 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.
He got caught when his girlfriend got mad and turned him in."
"This guy in high school, Luis, was a known dealer. He didn't keep it a secret. Everyone bought hard stuff off of him. The cops constantly pulled him over to search him, and whenever a substance-related thing happened at school he was often the first kid they pulled into the principal's office.
But they would never catch him with anything
The principal used to turn all of his possessions inside out on a weekly basis. Apparently, schools can do that, but cops can't. They regularly cut locks off his gym locker and his regular locker in hopes of finding his stash, but they never found it.
One time there was a rumor going around that his stash was stored in a locker not assigned to anyone, which prompted the administration to search every single locker in the school. I remember we had to stand in the hallway and unlock it so the principal could have a look inside. They definitely caught people with stuff but not Luis. As it turns out he started that rumor.
Police dogs were a regular occurrence. Once a month they brought them into the school, and they were present at every sports game.
Luis was one of the only, if not the sole supplier for the whole school. The administration had no idea what to do. They would catch kids with stuff and the kids would flat out say 'I bought this from Luis' Luis would encourage them to say it. They would then flip Luis' things inside out, cops would search his car, and he consented to all of it, and laughed when they found nothing.
This was probably close to 15 years ago now. The vice principal loves to tell the story about how they eventually 'caught' him. The vice principal's younger son asked for these shoes for Christmas that had a secret compartment in them. Light bulbs go off in his head.
The first day back after a holiday break, he calls the school officer and pulls Luis out of class. They bring him into to office and flip all of his stuff out on the table. Then the VP tells him to take his shoes off. Turns out his hunch was right. He had hidden compartments in his shoes.
But there were no substances in there. I guess Luis is laughing his butt off at this point. This was pre-everyone owned a cell phone era. Luis has the audacity to explain that he hasn't seen any of his classmates for three weeks, he had not taken any orders yet.
Had the VP waited a day, he would have caught him."
"A Fire Marshal once told me about his nemesis, a firebug naturally. Apparently, the arsonist had a thing for burning old barns. Never a building that was in use, always an old abandoned one.
Anyway, his modus operandi was to take a balloon filled with accelerants like gasoline or kerosene and suspend it by a string it 20 feet off the ground. Under the balloon, he'd light a candle and start the balloon swinging on a long arc. He'd have a good 20 minutes before the arc of the swing slowed enough that the candle would ignite the balloon. The balloon ignites, the accelerant is spread evenly across all surfaces and the balloon, string, and candle disappear in the fire. It was like the entire interior of the structure caught fire at the same time, with no trace as to how.
He said it was near the perfect crime until some cop happens to notice a car parked in a field a mile away and thinks to jot down the license plate number."
"I arrested a kid for stealing a car. He confessed and told me that he'd be straight up with me. He was walking through a parking lot and saw a lady drop her car keys and keep walking. He said that's her fault for not paying attention, grabbed the keys, and took off in her car. He lamented that he knew he'd get stopped eventually, but didn't think we'd stop him so quickly. When I asked if he had a driver's license he smiled and said he was planning to take the car he stole to the DMV so he could take his driving test.
We both had a good laugh at that. He said I ruined his plans."
"Once had a guy who shoplifted on an industrial scale. He stole hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds-worth of merchandise from a particular well-known high-street clothing store. Every day.
He'd go to different branches all over the country - he spoke nicely and was smartly dressed. He just used to fill up bags with high-value products and walk out.
He had a warehouse-type unit somewhere with his own till - because he would generate receipts for these items and go back to return them and get cash refunds.
He was at it for years and made enough to put his kids through private school. When he got caught he was jailed for about a year.
When he came out he got back on it. Police still couldn't find his base. He was being investigated and was on bail. One occasion when he answered his bail at the police station, the police had a 6-man surveillance team ready to tail him and track down the warehouse he was using. He lost them within 2 minutes of leaving the station.
When he came for trial based on the CCTV evidence we had from the various shops the case got thrown out. After he was thus acquitted he was due to be investigated for some other matters - but he gave the police and security the slip from the Court before he could be arrested."
"I had a guy when I first started who 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.
The 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, about 30 seconds.
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 30 seconds were plenty for him to get in, get to the register, and leave."
"We got 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. It 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.
It 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. The 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.
I've heard of it a few times since in the press, but the first time I came across it was on duty and no one had any idea what was going on."
"My professor arrested Ted Kaczynski. My professor always told me that they would have never caught him because of how ingenious his IEDs were. He used random pieces of wood from the sawmill next to his cabin as containers and always peeled the labels off of the batteries he used as power. The only reason he got caught was that he sent a similar manifesto to his brother before the one he sent to the New York Times and his brother notified the police."
"I was the criminal that was complimented by police officers on my elusiveness.
I was 13 years old and took my dad's truck out for a joy ride while my parents were out of town for the night. I wasn't so good at driving stick and got pulled over. I ran for it. I hid in a field for a half hour or so while watching more and more police show up to investigate. When I heard the dogs, I knew it was my time to make it or break it.
So I ran, and boy did I run. I made it to a road and hopped a fence into someone's yard, and hopped a few more fences. I lost the dogs, but the cruisers were everywhere. I made my way to my house and there were cops on every corner of the street. A bit of stealthy fence-hopping and I was at my basement window and I crawled in, with the cops literally outside my house. I gathered my things in the dark and was ready to head off to my buddy's place, but I was surrounded.
I gave the police a very entertaining chase, and they even said so. I felt so complimented that they enjoyed the chase, too. They also said I had no chance of getting away.
I remember eating a grapefruit and trying to 'play it cool' while they were questioning me."
I'll give you the best and worst.
Smartest criminal: The suspect would go door to door saying he was with Publishers Clearing House. He would tell people they were one of several finalists. 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 afterward. After over 50 cases, I finally caught the guy. He made off with over a half million dollars in three months before he was caught.
Dumbest criminal: The suspect was robbing a gas station late at night. The suspect pointed a weapon at the cashier demanding money. The cashier was surrounded by plexiglass all around. Cashier refused to give the suspect the money and hit the panic alarm, which locked the door. The suspect was angry and fired a shot at the cashier. The bullet ricocheted off the plexiglass and struck him in the forehead. The bullet knocked him unconscious but didn't penetrate the skull. As I arrived, the bullet was still protruding from his forehead and he was knocked out. He got 99 years for his stupidity.
The best part was the cash register only had $60 in it.
"He had a couple of guys who had scratch built an ATM. This would have been back in the 80's before the days of skimmers and cameras to clone cards, so they built their own ATM and installed it in a wall on a public street in order to collect card details to use later on. I don't know if it actually dispensed money - I'm guessing it just showed an error message.
He told me that very occasionally he had come across criminals who had worked so hard for their spoils that he felt they had kind of earned them. These guys were his example. He was also confused that two people smart enough to do this chose not to make an honest living."
"My friend's dad was a cop and about four years ago, my friend's dad had the duty of patrolling the streets to make sure there was no criminal activity. After a long day he was called by a distressed man who had left his car keys inside his new Mercedes Benz and after trying for 2 hours, they both realized there was no way but to call the company to get it out which would result in a 200 dollar bill.
Luckily for that owner of the car, a suspicious looking man walking down the street told him he would do it for him for $20, my friend's dad and the owner seemed skeptical, but honestly couldn't give a crap so they let him after being tired of their attempts.
The guy, in less than two minutes, went to the top of the car, punched the roof extremely hard then bumped the driver seat door, and voila, it opened. The owner gave the guy his 20 bucks and off he went. If I remember what my friend told me correctly, the guy told the police officers of how he did it and he detailed something about how the Mercedes model had a specific switch under the roof. I think it was the Rollover Sensor used to detect if the car has rolled over or not to open the doors. The guy just knew his Mercedes' I guess.
Two weeks later the cop arrested the guy for stealing a car."
"We had a guy who ran one of those 'we buy your gold' places. He did a moderate business but it just wasn't enough for the lifestyle he wanted. So he decided to rob a better jewelry store. He found one that sold only very high-quality jewelry and was about 300 miles away from his house. He visited them one day and got the name of the safe they used, noted the type of alarm, cameras, and all that then went home and bought the exact same safe. He spent months planning how to break into the safe without possibly tripping the alarm, but he wasn't having any luck. He was dedicated, kept working on it and finally came up with a plan. He got his brother and another person and they turned off their cell phones at home, then drove to the store, and got there in the middle of the night. They climbed onto the roof, cut a hole in the ceiling and purposefully tripped the alarm. They put the ceiling tiles back and laid down on the roof.
The owner came and the police came, the owner checks out the store, nothing looks wrong, police haven't seen anyone so the owner decided his alarm must have malfunctioned. He turns off the alarm, because he'll be back here in a couple hours to open, sends the officer away and he goes home.
The thief, able to hear the system is disabled from his hiding spot then opens the hole in the ceiling again, they casual drop into the business and basically wipe the place out. Estimates ran around 4-6 million in gold.
They take all the gold home where he starts to slowly mix it in with his regular business. He melts all the gold down to sell, so it's not like the pieces can be identified. They generate some fake business receipts, but lots of his transactions are cash-based and a small business keeping sloppy records is nothing new.
Meanwhile, the jewelry store owner feels like a complete idiot, and the cops only find one smoke inside, no prints, so they must have worn gloves. This police also get a security image from a business outside of a black truck coming and going at the right time, but the license plate is obscured and the thieves are covered up enough the poor quality camera can't catch much that's helpful.
I believe the smoke came back with a partial match to one of the sidekicks. Now mind you, a partial DNA match is pretty mediocre evidence at best.
The IRS has noticed our thief doubled his income that year, and then the next year had a slump but somehow managed to buy a whole heaping lot of stuff with cash that had to be unreported. He bought: a Land Rover, some sports car, a 400k house, a 30k pool - all with cash that was unaccounted for.
A check of cell phone records had one of the cell phones pinging about an hour away from the crime scene in the middle of the night. And the truck he had was the same type of truck that showed up at the scene.
It was a lot of little things, but it was enough altogether to make a pretty decent case and a jury convicted him at trial.
"Two employees of a soccer betting company colluded to rig odds and make big money.
One would be in the office rigging the odds of the purchased ticket and the other would be in person purchasing the ticket at the moment the odds were tweaked.
They would always buy both sides to pay out 3:1 so that whatever the result, they would win an estimated 1 portion which is in excess. This was possible because of an option to allow no-draws with the effect that the better will get back his capital. Therefore, if a draw arose, it would simply result in them getting their monies back.
To avoid detection, they made sure that their potential winning was always below the statutory minimum which required winners' identification to be recorded. They also made sure to go to different outlets when making the purchases.
However, their grand scheme was eventually foiled not by their own mistake, but by a busybody before them in the queue. A customer had some issues with buying his ticket and eventually wrote in to make a complaint. Upon investigating the tapes from the outlet where the complaint came from, the company realized that their employee was making a purchase in their own outlets, which was clearly prohibited. This then led the company on a chain of inquiry which eventually led to a hefty jail term and fine for both of the criminals involved.
There were these two twin brothers, big, tall, muscular fellows. Their scam was ingenious. Both brothers would go to Home Depot separately and each begins 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. The first dude then takes his purchases to load up in their vehicle.
The 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'. The dude basically just sold Home Depot their own items.
They pulled this trick off and on for years before someone caught on. The cop said they probably would have kept on getting away with it for years if they hadn't hit the same store so often.
"My mom's good friend tells me stories about his chop shopping days. He was notorious with the police for never getting caught. What he used to do was steal the car, bring it to a random's friend's garage and pay them, gut the parts, and unload them slowly to his contacts. The cops knew it was him, he would constantly get arrested as a suspect but always get tossed out after clearly not having enough evidence.
Eventually, the local PD had enough and got him an amazing repo job. Now he makes six figures a year doing what he loved. He actually got coffee with an old retired cop that was essentially his arch enemy. He told the cop all the stories and how he did it. He was so dumbfounded how smart his tactics were, that the cop started laughing uncontrollably."
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