'He Stole Half A Million In Three Months.' Cops Talk About The Smartest Criminals They Ever Caught.

As Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty taught us, every great detective deserves a worthy adversary...


This piece is based on an AskReddit thread. Lin on the last page.

1/12. My colleagues 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 officer can do anything, suspect turns off the car, gets out, throws his keys into the woods, cracks open a 5th of vodka, and chugs the whole thing down.

Suspect later said he 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."

You'll be happy to know he go busted a month or so later and lost his licence.


2/12. 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 accomplices. 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 cash machine onto the truck (full of cash) and they drove away.

He got snapped when one of the accomplices got picked up for another charge and tried to make a deal.


3/12. In the 70's there was a notorious gangster in Copenhagen, Denmark who ran all the crime in the city.

It was mostly 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 cold weather.

But lo and behold, on the morning one of his shipments arrived, the skies were blue, the sun was hot, and everyone and their mother was on that beach.

Witnesses everywhere. How was he supposed to get his illegal smokes off the boats? (continued...)

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He went to a production company and rented equipment for a small film shoot. Cameras, a directors chair, megaphones, etc. He then went around the beach and cast 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 trucks to the boats, called "ACTION, and had them unload the cigarettes into the trucks. When all the contraband was safely in the trucks, he called CUT, thanked everyone, and drove away.


4/12. I used to work with law enforcement and one 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 and then wriggled out of the grasp of several officers trying to subdue him and got into a police car and drove off with it.

He only managed to get about 10 feet before crashing into a cement barrier and knocking himself unconscious. The guy ended up living too.

PCP is a hell of a drug.


5/12. First, Ill tell you about the smartest criminal I ever dealt with. Suspect would go door to door saying he was with Publishers Clearing House. He would tell people they were one of several finalist.

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 take out a bunch of loans in their name. After over 50 cases, I finally caught the guy. Made off with over a half million dollars in 3 months before he was caught.

Now, for contrast, let me tell you about the stupidest criminal I ever dealt with. (continued...)

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Suspect was robbing a gas station late at night. Suspect pointed a gun at the cashier demanding money. The cashier was surrounded by plexiglass all around.

Cashier refused to give suspect the money and hit the panic alarm, which locked the door. 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.


6/12. One of the guys I put away 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 ran the same loop 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.


7/12. 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.

At first, he thought it was just series of unrelated barn fires, because this arsonist was an expert at not leaving any evidence. No matches, lighters - nothing you would expect.

Based on the evidence, it seems as though the entire interior of the structure caught fire at the same time, with no trace as to how. How did the arsonist do it? (continued...)

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He would 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.

The Fire Marshal told me it was damn near the perfect crime until one of my officers happened to notice a car parked in a field a mile away and thinks to jot down the license plate number.


8/12. One of my colleagues pulled over a guy who had several pounds of weed in the car. He managed to stop the car, get out, and run without the officer seeing him.

While they were still looking for him, he actually 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.

The only reason he got caught is because his ex-wife ratted him out. Almost the perfect crime.


9/12. I was an Military Policeman at Fort Carson. A young man was in the service for two years before he received a dishonorable discharge, sending him back home to Pennsylvania. When he got home he used his uniform to get discounts and praise.

That's illegal. But then, one day, he decided to make things a step crazier. (continued...)

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He decided to hop on a plane to Colorado. He arrives in full uniform but with Lieutenant rank makers on. He gets off the plane and uses government transportation to get on base. He doesn't have an ID but hell, hes an officer. So they let him on.

He goes walking 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, and convinces them that he is waiting for housing. They let him live with them for a month. He cleans the house and babysits the kids.

The only reason he got caught is because of one phone call he made to his mother from the base. She became worried about him and called the army. His mother let the people know he was not in the military.

After that, the search began. I was the one who picked 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 whatever happens to him happens, he should 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 to be a criminal.


10/12. So my professor arrested Ted Kaczynski - the Unabomber serial killer. 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 for the bombs he made, and always peeled the labels off of the batteries he used for 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.


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11/12. After a long day, I responded to a call by a distressed man who had left his car keys inside his new Mercedes Benz. Didnt take long to realize the only way to break him intones car would be to call a locksmith which would result in a 200 dollar bill.

Luckily for the owner of the car, a suspicious looking man walking down the street told us he would do it for him for $20. We were pretty skeptical, but also curious, so we let him give it a try.

In less than 2 minutes, this guy went onto the roof of the car, punched down extremely hard, then bumped the driver side door. Magically, it opened. The owner gave the guy his 20 bucks and off he went.

I arrested the same guy for stealing a car. Maybe hes not so smart after all.


12/12. I 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.



"It wasn't me!"

There's not much you can do when the righteous fist of the law comes down on you. Call it a mix-up, or call it a mistake, if someone's pegged you at the scene of a crime there's not much you can do but trust the justice system to prove you innocent. However, that's a gamble, and just because you've been given a "not guilty" doesn't mean the effects won't follow you for the rest of your life.

Reddit user, u/danbrownskin, wanted to hear about the times when it wasn't you, seriously, it was someone else, when they asked:

Redditors who were once considered suspect of a crime they did not commit, what's it like being held under suspicion and how did it affect your life?

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