Heist movies have ruined us. We see actors like George Clooney and Sandra Bullock play smooth operators that pull off the perfect crime, and we think “man, thieves must be a clever bunch.”
Who can blame us? With teams of writers, make-up artists, wardrobe, cinematographers, and cutting-edge special effects to provide movie magic that smooths the rough edges, almost anyone can be made to look like a criminal mastermind.
The truth, as it so often is, happens to be a little less glamorous. With robberies making up a quarter of all violent crimes, and burglaries making up nearly a fifth of property crimes, there are bound to be a few thieves that, try as they might, accomplish very little.
Worse yet, because of how prolific security cameras are these days, many of them are documented during their antics, often with the recordings leading to an arrest.
The good news? The video evidence of these more inept criminals and their shenanigans is usually worth a laugh or two, and will certainly make you feel smarter for staying out of trouble.
To prove it, we’ve put together this list of some of our favorites, complete with footage that shows that some days you’re better off staying in bed.
Critical Research Failure
Those who are familiar with the above-mentioned heist genre will probably know the term “casing the joint.” It’s a phrase that means doing your research and investigating the location of where you’re going to commit a crime before you actually go through with it.
It makes a lot of sense that, if you’re going to risk felony charges and time in prison, you might want to make sure you can pull off a crime without getting caught.
Alarm and security camera distributor Kobi C.C.T.V. was broken into by a couple of crooks hoping for some valuable, high-tech loot. They found it alright, but not before the 25 active security cameras in the building found them.
Try as they might to cover up their faces by pulling shirts over their heads (apparently there were no ski masks available?), they were simply being watched from too many angles.
The footage found its way to the nightly news, where one of the thieves’ mothers saw it. She did what any loving, merciful mother would, and turned him in to the authorities. Now he’s likely enjoying a time out, probably one in a state prison.
And to think, it probably could have been avoided if the burglars had just looked up at the big letters on the face of the building.
One Slippery Mask
When criminals are being incompetent, most of the time it’s because they haven’t had much practice being criminals.
They’ll struggle with things like holding people up, disguising themselves, or searching for money and valuables in someone else’s place. Given that criminals typically learn these skills “on the job,” it makes sense they might get it wrong the first few times.
What makes a criminal really look silly, then, is when they fail to do something more mundane. Like just trying to put on their ski mask.
In the audioless video, we see the “stick-up artist” in question enter the convenience store with his mask off (his first mistake, since the security camera gets a good look at him). Then he begins to, unsuccessfully, apply his mask to his face. Repeatedly.
He struggles more than any person has any right to.
The video doesn’t offer much in the way of an explanation, but we can make some assumptions. Perhaps he just has a case of the jitters. Or maybe he’s liberally applied some grease to the top of his head.
It could be that he’s brought a child-sized mask and only by stretching it does he finally get it over his adult-sized face.
In any case, he brings what we imagine to be a loaded weapon conspicuously close to his own temple. We can’t be sure, but that seems like a rather bad idea.
Fumble And Recovery
Sometimes screwing up the robbery is just a matter of being clumsy, as this Denver-based criminal proves. The would-be e-cigarette thief approaches the counter all calm and sly, but when he attempts to pull a gun on the cashier, he goes all butterfingers.
The weapon tumbles over the counter and onto the ground (quite dangerously, it seems), only to be recovered by the cashier before the crook can hop the counter to pick it up.
Once he sees the gun in her hand, he bolts, probably fearing for his own safety (which he should). The funniest part? If he’d looked a little closer he’d see that she was more likely to use the weapon like a club than a firearm: she’s holding it by the barrel.
(Can’t) Get Out
This one might be the best of the bunch. Apparently happening in Houston, this robber seems like he’s on the right track at first. He enters the cell phone store and goes straight for the counter.
When the manager protests, he appears to pull his gun and threaten the cashier. At the urging of her manager, the cashier refuses to open the money drawer for him, and instead follows the manager and the customer out of the store.
What the perp seems to underestimate is the cool head and resourcefulness of the manager, who, once everyone is safely out, promptly locks him in.
Unlike other places of business on this list, this store is outfitted with metal bars on the windows and door, which foreshadows where this guy is about to end up.
The thief doesn’t notice at first that he’s trapped. He approaches the door with loot in hand, expecting to be able to walk right out. When the door doesn’t open, he curses, the makes several unsuccessful attempts at getting it open.
He tries kicking the door, he tries shooting the lock, he even tries throwing himself at it in a desperate bid to get it open. It never budges.
The very systems that would have kept him out at night are now keeping him in while the employees wait for the police.
The man seems to realize this and begins pleading for his freedom. “Please! I have nothing,” he says, indicating that he’s left his loot inside. He even gets on his knees to beg.
It’s only at this point, trapped and doomed, that he begins expressing remorse, saying “I’m sorry!” Too little, too late it seems.
The police eventually arrive and, because he’s both brandished a firearm and actually fired it, the cops come in weapons drawn. The man, wisely, puts his hands up, gets down on the ground, and remains subdued all at their instruction.
We don’t know the rest of the story, but we can bet the judge and jury had a pretty good laugh when they saw the video evidence.
Let’s bring it home with our last entry—quite literally, actually. Having packages stolen from your front porch is a frustration that many of us have had to deal with. While it’s a bit of a grab bag for the crooks, it’s also pretty low risk.
Or, at least it was until people started using outdoor security cameras and video doorbells. And until people started applying
We’re not sure that’s actually what happened here, but either way we think the karma involved is pretty appropriate.
Despite the rather clean shot of her face the doorbell camera gets, this porch pirate thinks she’s about to make a clean getaway with the unattended goods. And she does…for about three seconds.
Then she slips and breaks her ankle, or otherwise injures herself so that she can’t walk. Tough break, no pun intended. Her companion comes out to liberate the packages in her stead, but not before picking her up and carrying her to the car.
The video doesn’t make the aftermath too clear regarding whether or not they’re caught, but checking nearby hospital ERs for a car and woman matching the video’s description probably wasn’t too hard. Either way, as one commenter put it, they probably traded about $100 worth of packages for around $1000 in hospital bills.
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