Video cameras, or closed-circuit television (CCTV), are becoming a more and more “popular” tool in the Western world. Some citizens may disagree with their ethical use. The excessive usage of such video footage by police can indeed prove trouble in a democratic society.
There’s no doubt, however, that a sophisticated surveillance system can help (more than harm) a civilized society. In some cases, people committing horrific crimes were caught … thanks to video footage from security cameras.
The following list of the 25 Craziest Criminal Acts Caught on Surveillance Videos might surprise you. Clearly, the wise use of sophisticated systems by public security officials help provide security to society.
Robbers Try to Beat Bank Alarm Sensor
Two would-be robbers left a shiny impression on police in southern Brazil, when they chose an unusual form of camouflage during an attempted bank robbery: head-to-toe aluminum foil.
They also made another, more serious mistake. They failed to notice there were internal security cameras, which were capturing every move they did in a centralized surveillance office.
The Murder of James Bulger
In 1993, two-year-old James Bulger was abducted from a shopping mall and was tortured and then killed by two ten-year-old boys in Liverpool, England.
Police found low-resolution images of the young abductors from the shopping center’s CCTV system in what may be one of the most shocking crimes in modern British history.
Philly's Serial Killer
Juan Covington, an American serial killer from Philadelphia, got caught for murder thanks to the aid of a camera.
He worked at Pennsylvania Hospital and was arrested in 2005 after security camera footage linked him to the murder of coworker Patricia McDermott, a radiographer in the hospital.
But that wasn’t his only crime. He would later confess to multiple other murders and attempted murders as well.
"Decorating" Home with Surveillance Cameras
They say, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” but Jeanne Thomas, a Boynton Beach resident, learned the first time. Having her home burglarized once was more than enough for her.
She equipped her home with surveillance cameras after that first incident in order to keep an eye one her home from work. One day while she was at work, she checked in on the cameras and saw her house being actively robbed again.
She called the police immediately and the thief wasn’t as lucky the second time around. He got arrested.
The Bad Cop
Sean Groubert was a police officer who shot a motorist named Levar Jones after stopping him in Richland County for not wearing a seat belt. The patrol car video of the incident showed Jones with his hands raised as he was shot.
Soon after the incident, Groubert was fired from the state Highway Patrol and pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
Rioters Get Caught in the UK
Back in 2011, thousands of British people rioted violently and even looted in the streets during the days that followed the deadly injury of a man by the local police.
Unfortunately, the riots caused more deaths and hundreds of injuries to both police and rioters. After the rioting stopped, however, hundreds of arrests took place thanks to surveillance footage of the events. Individuals were charged with pretty much anything from murder to theft.
Hate Crime Caught on Footage
Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office announced charges a few years ago against three Bucks County residents for the vicious beating of two gay men. The crazy thing is that the attackers would have gone unpunished if not for Twitter and surveillance cameras.
See, the identification of the two men and a woman happened after police released footage of them from earlier in that evening. Coincidentally, a Twitter user who had seen them while going to work identified the perpetrators and made the police officer’s work easier on the specific case.
Stealing from a Dead Man
Two ruthless thugs broke the floodlight sensors and smashed their way into a house in Birmingham, England. The thieves turned the house upside-down as they rummaged for money and jewelry. They even stole a pair of cufflinks belonging to the victim’s dead father.
The homeowners were truly terrified by the burglary after watching CCTV footage and realizing how easily the crooks burst inside their property.
However, the local police officers didn’t get as terrified. Instead, they identified the thugs and arrested them shortly thereafter.
The London Nail Bomber
The so-called 1999 London nail bombings were a series of bomb explosions in London, England. Over three successive weekends, homemade nail bombs were detonated in different parts of England’s capital. Each bomb contained up to 1,500 four-inch nails, in holdalls that were left in public spaces.
The bombs killed three people, including a pregnant woman, and injured 140 people, four of whom lost limbs. It needed the meticulous examination of endless surveillance footage to identify, discover, and arrest David Copeland, the scumbag behind the “Nail Bombs.”
"Grand Theft Livestock"
Stealing cows may not be the most “appealing” crime for gangster wannabes out there, but it’s actually a real thing and it even has a name: Grand theft of Livestock.
In 2011, two guys got caught stealing cows from a Florida ranch. How? With a surveillance camera used to track down the cattle rustlers. Unfortunately, the cattle were sold at an auction and sent to be butchered before the perpetrators were caught.
Naked and Thirsty
A thief wearing only a cowboy hat terrorized Georgia back in 2014 as he broke into many houses. He was eventually arrested on more than a dozen charges including two counts of burglary, criminal trespass, impersonating a police officer, and indecent exposure.
For the record, the “cowboy,” Ashdon Gibbs, was caught on camera drinking a beer, making himself a meal, and watching an Atlanta Braves baseball game on TV in a house he had just invaded. The dude had some nerve for sure.
The Murder of Hannah Graham
Hannah Graham was a young student at the University of Virginia who went missing on September 13, 2014. She was last seen early in the morning that day, at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Five weeks later, her remains were discovered on an abandoned property in nearby Albemarle County. After reviewing all of the footage, again and again, police identified a suspect on the cameras named Jesse Leeroy “LJ” Matthew.
The man turned out to be the one responsible for Graham’s death and was charged in the case.
If this was supposed to be the plot of Taken 4, this movie wouldn’t last long. When Carlesha Freeland-Gaither was abducted in Philadelphia in 2014, the abductor didn’t do a very good job.
Local police were aided by cops from Maryland who viewed surveillance footage and connected the dots back to a man they suspected of a crime in their jurisdiction.
The police then tracked down the car that was used in the crime, rescued Freeland-Gaiter, and arrested the man.
The Murder of Leiby Kletzky
In 2011, Leiby Kletzky was kidnapped as he returned home from his school day camp in the mainly Hasidic neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn.
Footage from several surveillance cameras, pieced together by an amateur detective, helped to solve the boy’s disappearance. Kletzky was tracked on the cameras before he seemed to disappear with an unknown man.
Unfortunately, the dismembered body of the boy was found in the Kensington apartment of Levi Aron and in a dumpster in another Brooklyn neighborhood a few days after Kletzky went missing.
The Evil Firefighter
On September 29, 2012, George Miguel Tiaffay, a Las Vegas firefighter, called 911 to report his wife’s death. A year later, a homeless man named Noel Scott Stevens, pleaded guilty to murdering Shauna Tiaffay (Tiaffay’s wife).
However, a video from the local Walmart’s camera revealed that George Tiaffay and Noel Scott Stevens had bought dark clothes and a hammer there. The camera of another store nearby, showed them buying a knife and gloves several weeks before Shauna’s murder.
Further, Tiaffay had talked to Stevens 87 times in the month before the murder of his wife.
Hurricane Irma Home Invader
During Hurricane Irma, a man living in North Carolina called the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office asking for authorities to check on his 85-year-old father. The father was found injured and transported to a hospital.
An officer who wasn’t involved in the welfare check later broke into the home and rummaged through the house. He was seen on surveillance footage allegedly opening containers and putting their contents into his pockets.
The Monstrous Mother
Maggie Dixon, a native of North Carolina, brought her infant son to the hospital back in 2017 claiming that he was suffering from pneumonia. As her son was recovering, the staff noticed he had trouble breathing whenever she was alone with him.
For that reason they decided to check surveillance tapes. The medical staff members were literally shocked to find out that she tried to smother her own baby four times with a pillow within 15 minutes.
A Murder with No Body
This may be one of the most triumphant cases solved with the aid of a surveillance society. Suzanne Pilley disappeared in 2010, on her way to work in the center of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Her body was never found but her murderer, David Gilroy, was convicted two years later after his actions were spotted by a wide variety of surveillance devices. He learned the hard way that CCTV footage, mobile phone records, emails, and shop receipts leave behind an “electronic footprint.”
The Boston Marathon Bomber
Twenty-four hours after the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the FBI was chasing down every lead, investigating and dismissing a growing number of potential suspects.
Surveillance videos played a very important role in identifying the Tsarnaev brothers, as they exposed their movements during the Boston Marathon and subsequent bombings.
Criminals Caught by a Drone
Back in 2014, we had a first-ever! Four men from North Dakota earned the notorious “honor” of being the first Americans to be arrested with the help of a local police drone.
The four men were pulled over by a Grand Forks County sheriff’s deputy. When the sirens came on, though, they dashed from the car in separate directions.
Rather than give chase, the police tracked the suspects with Qube, an aerial drone with four rotor blades, much like those widely used by hobbyists.