Everyone loves a good heist movie – we all know that robbing casinos is bad, but that doesn’t stop us from rooting for George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven. When the criminal masterminds are smart enough, it isn’t all that hard to get people on their side. And when real life criminals are as ingenious as in the movies…well, that’s a pretty grey area. Grey enough that sometimes even police officers can only shake their heads and laugh: just take a look these 14 AskReddit stories about crazy smart criminals, and you’ll see what I mean.
1. Master Builders
Am a police officer, but the story is actually from my dad who was a lawyer.
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.
2. Trick of the Trade
Friend’s dad was a cop.
A few 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 two 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 suspiciously 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 2 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.
Two weeks later the cop arrested the guy for stealing a car.
3. Cinematic Smuggler
In the 70s there was a notorious gangster in Copenhagen who ruled the roost.
It was harmless stuff, really. Cigarettes from the Eastern block. Booze. That kinda thing.
He would mostly have it brought into the country via small boats.
On one occasion he had a big load of cigarettes set to arrive in the morning on a beach. Beaches are generally empty as we have incredibly crappy weather.
But lo and behold, on the morning of the arrival the skies were blue and everyone and their mother was on that beach.
So he went to a production company and rented equipment for a small film shoot. Cameras, Directors chair, megaphone, etc. He then went around the beach and casted good looking young males to be extras in a movie about a cigarette smuggler.
When the boat came in he lined them up in a long line from the truck to the boat, called “ACTION” and had them unload the cigarettes into the truck. “CUT” thank you very much, and drove away.
4. Very Strategic Escape
One of the guys I know escaped from a new prison by climbing the fence. He was always great at climbing things, he would get to the tops of pine trees no trouble.
When he was running from the police helicopter he had underneath a shed with hay bales inside it. This gave off a heat signal so they couldn’t pick up where he was.
He walk/ran the same loop, this was to make the dog handlers think the dog had got onto a false positive.
He was found hiding in someone’s cupboard eating their food about two weeks after escaping from prison.
5. “He got the horse though…”
Not me but a friend of the family (I’ll call him Bob) was a police officer who was stationed in the boonies. Bob had to find someone to bring to court. He found him, but this dude jumped on a horse and took off.
Bob followed in the cop car. The guy on the horse refused to … halt? Bob pulled out his taser, took aim and missed the guy. He got the horse though, which threw the man and Bob took him in.
6. The Tactical Burglar
I’m not a police officer… but know some guys who are. Best one I heard was a guy who would drill a tiny hole beside a window to open the latch. He would then enter at night, and go straight to the front door and open it, so he could make a quick exit if needed. If he couldn’t open a door, he would leave again immediately. He stole stuff, then closed the window and locked the door behind him.
Most people had no idea they had been robbed. He took wallets off bedside desks while people slept beside them. Or sometimes just took some cash and cards but left the wallet. When he got caught, he was making a plea deal, so it was in his interest to admit all crimes so he couldn’t later be prosecuted again for them.
He took police round dozens of houses, and each had a tiny drill hole…
And every house owner thought they had lost wallets and credit cards never knowing they had been burgled.
7. And the moral is: If you’re a good enough criminal, the cops will find you a job…
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 use 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 6 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.
8. “Movie-worthy heist”
Hatton Garden heist is my favourite. Huge water-cooled drill, 50cm of concrete, all dressed as builders. Safety deposit boxes totalling £14m were robbed and they rolled them out wearing overalls, in wheelie bins. A proper movie-worthy heist.
9. Coach Crime
In 8th grade, my football coach robbed a bank in a small town in Washington State. He had a great elaborate plan. He posted an ad on Craigslist for job offerings telling people they had to wear very specific clothes, at a specific location at the exact same time an armored vehicle was supposed to arrive at a bank.
So when the armored vehicle arrived he was dressed in the same clothes as everyone else, he robbed the armored car then proceeded to run down to a nearby river, and he got in a tiny inflatable raft and floated down the river.
The day after he robbed the bank he threw a fat pizza party for our football team and then he went to Vegas. He was honestly one of the nicest coaches I ever had, everyone loved him.
He was caught by a homeless man who recognized the car that he drove up to the bank in. He was just recently released from jail I think. I’m pretty sure he made a huge turn around with his life and was writing children’s books in jail and now travels the country as a public speaker. Honestly he is kind of an amazing human, even though he has a troubled past.
10. IT Update
Had a call to the IT help desk, from a department of the company I was working at. Asking, “When are the new computers going to arrive?”
This caused some consternation, as we didn’t know what they were talking about. But it wasn’t an order that had ‘gone missing’ as much as the entire department’s computers.
Someone had – in broad daylight – rocked up in a transit van, done a masterful piece of blagging and convinced everyone (security included) that this was part of IT’s rolling hardware update program.
So they loaded their “old” computers in the van, and he said he’d be back “soon” with the new ones.
In school we would stuff tissue up the hole where change comes out of the snack machines. The change would get stuck here until the end of the day, then pull out the tissue and blam! You got some change.
12. “The manager helped them…”
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.
13. The Fake Out
Not a cop or a criminal, heard this one from a guy who was trying to turn his life around at college after a drug addiction and being in and out of prison.
He and a friend of his would go into supermarkets or electronics stores and one of them would pocket something small then walk out the door to set the alarm off and get security to search him as he kicks up a huge fuss about it.
Whilst the alarm is going off and first guy is being searched and causing a scene, second guy would walk straight out with a trolley loaded with expensive stuff and nobody would bat an eyelid.
14. So many options for identical twin schemers…
I’m not a cop, but a cop told me about this. There were these two twin brothers, big, tall, muscular fellows. Their scam was ingenious. Both brothers would go into Home Depot separately and each begin 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. First dude then takes his purchases to load up in their vehicle.
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”. Dude basically just sold Home Depot their own items.
Evidently they pulled this trick off and on for years before someone caught on. Cop said they probably would have kept on getting away with it for years if they hadn’t hit the same store so often.
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