Just like anyone who has ever seen Oceans 13 and been amazed by the feats of criminality, police officers are often blown away by some of the things they see in the field. Cops are tasked with enforcing the law, and that doesn’t mean they can’t at least recognize and be impressed by extraordinary criminal acts. As long as they continue to prosecute the criminals everything’s all good. Below, a bunch of police officers (and other people in the field) shared stories of the criminals who impressed them the most over the years, and some of these stories are blowing my mind grapes right now (via AskReddit):
I locked up a guy a few years ago and he had an unusual crime on his criminal history. “Theft of an ATM”.
I asked him about it and he told me he was with 4 others and they all turned up at a local bank in overalls with a large truck. They asked for the manager and told him “We’re here to repair the ATM. The manager helped them load the ATM on to the truck (full of cash) and they drove away.
He got snapped when his girlfriend got mad and turned him in.
Saw this one on one of those police chase shows. Police dash cam showed the car in front of him was swerving all over the road in the middle of the night. He followed him for a while, then flipped on the lights to pull him over. Guy pulls over, and before the cop can do anything, he turns off the car, gets out, throws his keys into the woods, cracks open a brand new 5th of vodka, and chugs the whole thing down. Cut to the interview of the actual criminal with his voice and face obscured. He said he had already had multiple DUIs and had become something of an expert on drunk driving laws. He took advantage of a loophole wherein the cop didn’t have time to see if he was actually drunk behind the wheel of the car. Chugging the vodka right there would immediately have an effect on any sobriety testing. He hadn’t opened the vodka in the car, so no open container infraction. And he made sure his keys were most definitely out of reach, so there was now way that he could be “operating a vehicle under the influence.” Didn’t know wether or not to be impressed or disgusted with his drunken ingenuity.
Although no skill was really involved, 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.
Not a cop, or the criminal in question, but…
An acquaintance’s brother was getting pulled over but had several pounds of weed in the car. He managed to stop the car, get out, and run without the cops seeing him. (Rural area…back roads…) while they were still looking for him, he had time to find a way home and report the car stolen. They had no proof who was in the car or where he was.
A Fire Marshal once told me about his nemesis, a fire bug 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 accelerant like gasoline or kerosene and suspend it by a string it 20ft+ 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 damn 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 know a guy who crashed his car a mile from home while over the legal drink limit. He left the car, ran home and called the police straight away to report his crash. No other car was involved.
Then opened a bottle of whisky and drank three glasses and left it out on the table.
When the police showed up and asked if he’d been drinking he said, “Yes, I have been since I got home to calm my nerves after crashing when a cat ran out in front of me” and pointed at the open bottle on the table.
Couldn’t prove he’d been over the limit while driving.
Had a guy when I first started would twist locks. The art of twisting a lock works mainly in businesses that secure their double front doors using a deadbolt style lock. He would use a tool to twist this lock and in turn, open the doors. Guy probably got away with 25 businesses before he was finally busted. He later said his style of breaking and entering worked so well because the alarm systems have a set delay when opening a business. Say 30seconds. Given the glass wasn’t broke or large movements were observed by the system, it would act as if the store we’re opening and give the employee time to reset the alarm. Those 30s were plenty for him to get in, get to the register, and leave.
I was an MP at Fort Carson. The young man was in the service for two years before a dishonorable discharge sending him back home to Pennsylvania. When he got home he used his uniform to get discounts and praise. One day he decided to hop on a plane to Colorado. He arrives in full uniform but with Lt. rank on. Gets off the plane and uses the government transportation to get on base. He doesn’t have an ID but shit he is an officer so they let him on. Then he stayed at the inprocessing barracks without paperwork because hell, he is an officer. Stays there for weeks. He goes walking to the PX and comes across a woman with a flat tire. He helps her change it out and she invites him over for dinner. There he meets her husband and their kids then convinces them that he is waiting for housing and they let him live with them for a month. He cleans the house and babysits the kids. One time he went to this guys unit and chewed a supply sergeant out to help the guy he was living with. The only reason this came to light is because of one phone call he made to his mother from the inprocessing barracks. She became worried about him and called them. His mother let the people know he was not in the military. After that the search began. I was in MPI and got to pick him up. He gave me a straightforward statement and was genuinely nice. I just remember sitting on the office couch with him watching TV waiting for him to get transferred from my custody. I told him that I was genuinely impressed and that after what ever happens to him, happens, that he could get it together and do well. He wasn’t the brightest kid but damn he had balls. I guess that is what it really takes.
Not a police officer, but in Germany we had a hilarious case about this. A student had a weed farm in his apartment that was such a good construction job that the police testified in court that it was “really well done”.
The judge then complimented the guy that he “sold quality products for a fair price” and the prosecutors even stated: “if Cannabis becomes legal in Germany, he will be the man for the job”. He still had to pay a few thousand euros as penalty (but he earned about one thousand per month, so it’s fair).
My dad almost got caught stealing expensive paintings midday, 30 years ago. He was taking them off the wall, loading them in his car. Two cops came up, and one grabbed his arm. “What do you think you’re doing?!” “What does it look like im doing! Im loading these up to put new ones up.” The cops looked at each other with suspicion, and he feared he was about to be bagged. So he turned and said, “well, are you two just gonna fuckin’ stand there, or are you gonna fuckin’ help me?!” …… the cops went in and grabbed all the paintings and loaded them in his car with him. Hahah. EDIT: he dropped them off about ten years later anonymously, but kept one. Its hanging in a friends house.
No criminal skill per se but I thought I’d contribute this story as it was quite impressive.
Used to work with law enforcement and during a friday night a guy on pcp managed to shut down a major roadway during a foot pursuit. This guy ended up taking several shots from a 9mm and a shotgun shell and then wriggled out of the grasp of several officers trying to subdue him and get into a police car and drive off with it. He only managed to get about 10 feet before crashing into a cement barrier and knocking himself unconcious. The guy ended up living too.
Pcp is a hell of a drug.
Criminal here, that was complimented by police officers on my elusiveness.
I was 13 y.o, 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 was, and still am, very athletic). 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. But 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.
13 yo. dogfck 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.
So 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 because he had sent a similar manifesto to his brother before the one he sent to the New York Times and his brother notified the police.
This guy in high school, we’ll call him Luis, was a known drug dealer. He didn’t make it a secret. Everyone bought weed and harder stuff off of him. The cops constantly pulled him over to search him, and whenever a drug 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 any drugs.
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 drugs but not the Luis. Turns out he started that rumor.
Drug 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 weed and the kids would flat out say “I bought this from Luis” Luis would encourage them to say it. They would then flip Luis’ shit 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. VP’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 holiday break, he calls the school’s DARE officer and pulls Luis out of class. They bring him into to office and flip all of his shit 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 drugs in there. I guess Luis is laughing his ass 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 3 weeks, he had not take any orders yet. Had the VP waited a day, he would have caught him.
Bros, these stories keep going on and on over in the AskReddit thread so if you want to keep reading them you can just click here. I must say, of all the AskReddit Q&A threads I’ve read through over the years this is one of the more fascinating ones. I’m simply blown away by the ingenuity and creativity of some criminals.