Being a smart criminal means you don't get caught... at least in theory.
Today's burning question is from Redditor ItzTacoTimmie, who asked the online community: "Police officers of Reddit, who's the smartest criminal you've ever encountered?"
Here are some stories from police officers and people with stories of their own. The nerve of some of these criminals; you have to admire their moxie.
"There's one guy I recently dealt with..."
There's one guy I recently dealt with who is on parole. I stopped him in my city after he was looking to buy drugs (usually people come from all over to buy drugs and then leave). I issue him a warning and let him go as it's pretty common and he sang like a bird regarding 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 the guy was pulled over and wanted to verify that It was his guy that I stopped. I'm a little confused at first but he goes 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 day 1 and had left day 2. Well I had stopped him at 115 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 1, then in and out again on day 2. He then re arranged half the paperwork to make it look like he was in the hospital overnight which would make my car stop of him 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.
"A guy in my dorm..."
This was in the late 90s-early 00s.
A guy in my dorm came to school solely to deal drugs. 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 and concerts and keggers and sell party drugs.
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. So he had a repeat of the fall. At the end of the year, he was kicked out, and didn't care.
He made something on the order of $150k, in return for about $8k in student loans to cover a year of housing and tuition.
So 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 your drug business.
"He was smart enough..."
Probably someone who committed a crime I never solved.
With that being said I had a guy use a sledge hammer 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 and not touch anything he didn't have to. Alarms didn't go off until he exited out the back door, which the alarm company gets after a minute or two and takes them like 3/4 minutes to call in to us, giving him a good 5 minute head start so 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.
"It was middle of January."
Worked at a jail. After getting off work, I watched an ex inmate (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 re-booked in. It was middle of January. He didn't want to get too cold.
"Anyone that immediately requests a lawyer..."
Anyone that immediately requests a lawyer, prior to questioning. 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 f---ed. If you speak with me and lie, and I can prove it, you're f---ed.
If you say nothing at all... there's a chance I'm f---ed.
"I remember an officer..."Giphy
I remember an officer telling me about a B&E alarm he and his team responded to. No one was there to report the alarm, it must have been a security monitoring company that called.
When police showed up, everything seemed normal, most lights were off, and there was an employee still working. Explains he was there working late and must have set off an alarm.
They almost believed him until he said "uhh" before saying the name of the company he worked for. After that it was downhill but with a little more research he would have pretty much gotten away with it.
"Almost got away with it..."
Kid killed his grandmother. Used her credit card all weekend. Went to a dance. Went to Pizza Hut with a date. Had a stereo installed. Called family members in another state over and over like nothing happened.
The following Monday or Tuesday he poured gas through the house and lit it. Gas flashed and he ran into the yard. Fire department arrives. Said he heard a male in the house who he thought was an estranged family member that hated his grandma.
Almost got away with it but the door closed from the wind and the flames went out. Allows us to do an autopsy showing a .22 wound to the back.
Unraveled a long history of crazy abuse and family stuff for 16 years by his parents. Grandparents tried to help (edit clarification)
He's still in jail. Smart funny intelligent kid. Other than murdering his grandmother he seemed like a good kid from a distance.
"One guy would print barcodes..."
One guy would print barcodes, bring them into home depot and stick them on merchandise in the $100 range. When scanned the items came up around the $10 range. Putting random barcodes on things isn't really illegal and super hard to notice. Guy two would come in an hour later and buy the underpriced stuff. Complete plausible deniability. They would then sell the stuff on Ebay.
Only reason they got caught is because the guy with the barcode printer/software cut the second guy out of the operation so guy 2 stole a bunch of barcodes, put them on the merchandise and paid for it immediately afterwards. 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 a pretty theft and he walked away with a few days in county and a small fine. Dude probably took Home Depot for tens of thousands over the years.
"I worked with this one guy..."
I worked with this one guy who had a lengthy record. He had a system for getting released if he 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 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 said cabinet.
He would then crawl to the file cabinet, look for his "release to police" papers, and then would 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 10 times until police officers noticed him back on the streets. This stunt forced the state to change their procedure for detaining mentally unstable suspects.
"My favorite was the guy..."
My favorite was the 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. And hung an out-of-order sign on the deposit box. All the businesses came along and dropped off their deposits in the mailbox.
"I remember some thieves..."
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 so they stopped rushing to investigate. One day we find 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 the wall that wasn't covered in shelves and panels in the pharmacy, so the thieves had to know exactly which part of the Blockbuster wall to break through. Still pretty impressed by the heist these junkies managed to pull off.
"There was a guy with over 50 speeding charges..."Giphy
There was a guy with over 50 speeding charges, with the name "Prawo Jazdy." He was in a different car, with a different disguise every single time. Eventually, after the government set up a special task force to take down this guy, they realized that "Prawo Jazdy" means "drivers license" in Polish.
"Stopped a guy at night.
Stopped a guy at night. Willingly pulled over. Was Mr nice and had an answer for everything. Mistake was he left night vision on the dash. Which have me grounds to search. Had a perfect tool kit for high end breaks... radios to reach others in on the act... thermal suits etc. Barrister turned up to interview... offence of going equipped never stood a chance. He was released. On his way out joked he hadn't been stopped in 10 years... even complimented me on being pro active and observant. (record showed loads for burglary then nothing since 2002) 2 months later a camouflaged server site down the road was hit... 1.5 million in kit went. Police didn't even know it was there. ISP had no idea how the alarms didn't go off and how such specialised kit was difficult to sell... Knew exactly who it was... but 0% proof. nicest prisoner I ever had!
"They were housed in one of our maximum security tiers."
Having worked as a Disciplinary Officer in corrections, I've always been amazed at the ingenuity of inmates. The problem most run into is the follow up of the crime they commit. Our department received a call one night that there were 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, and called the department who was able to locate him shortly thereafter.
"When I figured it out..."
Not exactly the same, but I am a Cyber PI, and had a case where an escort was working 3 sugar daddies. She convinced each one of them to buy her a boob job. She collected $4500 from each of them and pocketed the difference. She got a set of boobs and $9,000. Each guy thought they were the only ones until I uncovered the enterprise. (One of the daddies was a married CEO.)
When I figured it out, I totally did the Ron Burgundy golf clap..."I'm not even mad...
"Not the smartest but the most determined."
Not the smartest, but the most determined. A couple of years back we had a dealer in, heavily suspected of plugging. He was put on a 'poo watch' constant supervision (effectively placed into a specialised cell whereby the toilet is rigged up to a clear tank, so if they poo, one of the lucky officers gets to sift through it to look for drugs). The bloke managed to avoid pooing for 12 days, after which point the doctor in charge of his care wrote a report saying that he needed to be released as he would likely die if he didn't poo asap. The guy was released, facing only a minor charge of the initial possession rather than what would have likely been a higher charge of possession with intent to supply.
"I'm a corrections officer..."
I'm a corrections officer and often encounter career criminals that are professionals at cheating the system. The real smart ones are few and far between, but every now and then I see something that opens my eyes to how ingenious and resourceful people can be who are institutionalized and have very little to their name.
One, less nefarious example I can share is this alcoholic and chronic gambler inmate who is homeless on the streets, has no family to put money into his canteen jail account but always seems to have various food items like chocolate bars (which are as good as money in jail) for trading and gambling. I searched his property one day to discover little coupon clippings, chocolate bar wrappers and fruit cup lids. This guy was using his 2 letters a week to send out complaints, reviews and coupons to food companies and having them ship replacement/winnings/samples to the jail. They would be factory sealed and pass security screening. All for free. I'm talking boxes of KitKat bars and whatnot. A true scammer.
A less intelligent but funny example is this 45 year old, 4'5 tall, half a skull, gimped leg in and out homeless regular we called 'dent head' (due to the large dent on one side of his head due to past surgeries removing half the top of his skull). He couldn't walk without a walker and even with a walker, moved with a massive limp at a snail's pace. I wondered what crime he could possibly be committing to keep coming to jail. Turns out he would shoplift from the local liquor store every day; if he didn't get caught, he gets free booze, if he did get caught, he'd come back to jail for: "a warm bed and 3 hot meals." Unbelievable.
"Knew two guys working at a scrap yard."
Knew two guys working at a scrap yard. One long semi trailer was for copper only, the boss would come around at closing and click the locks shut.
These f*kers put their own lock hanging there once a week and the boss would click it shut. They'd return hours later and grab a pick up load the lock the bosses lock back in place. They pulled that shit for a yr until the guy had cameras installed. They both just quit and called it good.
"Even with multiple police reports on this guy..."
Not police but I worked Asset Protection for a major retailer.
The guy was an electric shaver booster. Someone who specifically comes in, disarms the security tags, and walks out, within minutes.
Even with multiple police reports on this guy, we aren't allowed to stop him without probable cause. Lo and behold, we see him take a shaver. I left to do surveillance on the guy, undercover, but before I could, my coworker already had him in cuffs. No struggle, weird.
We get him in the office, he doesnt have it on him. Cops called. Cops search him. Nothing. He dumped it in a toy aisle we didnt see.
He sued us for $175,000 for unlawful detainment and we settled for $100,000. He knew what he was doing.
"When he first started as a rookie..."
I'm not a cop but my dad was in the NYPD for 20 years. When he first started as a rookie, he had a more experienced partner who he saw as kind of a douchebag. So one day they're on patrol, and this guy starts chasing the car screaming "Officer! Officer!" My dad's partner speeds up and my dad says something like "aren't you gonna stop for him?" And he just turns to him and says no. My dad didn't wanna argue with him so they just kept going. But the guy was still chasing the police car screaming "Officer!" After realizing they weren't gonna stop anytime soon for him, he drops to his knees and screams "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD OFFICERS!" And they just speed off. My dad never forgot that.
This was probably some sorta distraction maybe. It was a common trick back then my dad saw all the time in his later years on the force. They have someone do something crazy so that they get your attention, and while you're not looking, they can do anything. Sometimes they'll sneak up and mug you, other times they'll just steal something. Always very risky let your guard down.
DQ: Who is the smartest criminal you've heard of or encountered?