25 Dumbest Criminals and How They Got Caught

Posted by , Updated on March 25, 2024

There’s no doubt that criminal history can demonstrate some of the most audacious and daring crimes. Some well-thought-out schemes have left authorities and police officers around the world shaking their heads.

Many criminals have seemed to literally disappear off the face of the earth while sought by law enforcement agencies. Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin provide a notorious example; they successfully escaped from Alcatraz on June 11, 1962.

Then again, there are some criminals who leave us shaking our heads; not for the same reason, though. The following list of the 25 Dumbest Criminals and How They Got Caught will give you a taste of these notorious fails.


Showing Off on Facebook


An armed robber named Andrew Hennells was caught after he boasted on Facebook about his plans to raid a supermarket. In a post, which included a selfie and a picture of a knife, Hennells proudly claimed, “Doing. Tesco. Over.”

Police caught him 15 minutes later with the knife and £410 in cash stolen from a Tesco in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.


Dude Posts Whereabouts on Snapchat


If you think criminals prefer Facebook, though, you’re sadly mistaken. A burglar from Maine named Christopher Wallace is a big fan of Snapchat, so big that he decided to reveal his hiding spot there.

After he stole a propane cook stove and a castiron wood stove from a camp in Pierce Pond Township, Wallace posted on Snapchat that he was back in his home in Fairfield. After tipsters relayed the info to police, authorities showed up for the fugitive.


Orange Juice Got Him Caught


A nameless thief in Portland, Oregon, executed the perfect robbery in 2013 … or almost perfect. After going through every inch of the house he had broken into, opening all the drawers, and stealing everything of value he could find without leaving any fingerprints, he got thirsty.

He grabbed a container of orange juice he found in the refrigerator and took a gulp directly from it, leaving it in the sink. The container was sent straight to the DNA testing unit at the Oregon State Crime Lab where forensic scientists found a match and the thief got caught.


An Innocent Game on Father's Day


A ten-year-old boy was playing with his father’s old handcuffs on Father’s Day. He cuffed himself to his daddy, William Kline Jr., but the key was lost during the game.

William called the local police in Des Moines, Iowa, to help him get the cuffs off. As per routine, police ran Kline through their database and found two arrest warrants outstanding. Shortly after, they re-cuffed Kline … but it was for real this time.


Flirting with His "Victim"


Scottish shoplifter Aaron Morrison might be one of the most stupid thieves in history. After stealing a bottle of vodka from a liquor store, he stayed there in order to flirt with the shop clerk.

He even gave her his name and number. After that, it wasn’t difficult to trace his whereabouts.


Anger Issues


At a bus station in St. Paul, Minnesota, a hot-tempered man named Justin John Boudin was involved in an argument with a woman whom he punched in the face.

He also attacked another person who was standing there, which caused him to drop his folder on the ground. He didn’t retrieve the folder before he fled.

The police officers, who arrived at the scene a few minutes later, tracked Boudin thanks to what was inside the folder: his anger-management homework.


"James Brown" Gets Caught


A man suspected of arson and vandalism sent a selfie to police in Ohio in the US because he found the photo on his arrest warrant to be unflattering.

Donald “Chip” Pugh texted police a photo of himself and wrote: “Here is a better photo. That one is terrible.” He also added in a local radio station: “Man, they just did me wrong. They put a picture out that made me look like I was a Thundercat … or James Brown on the run. I can’t do that.”


The Other Half of the Pay Slip


The idea of robbing a bank without saying a single word is quite unique. A 40-year-old man walked into a bank and handed the cashier a threatening note that read: “Be Quick Be Quit [quiet]. Give your cash or I’ll shoot.”

The bank teller obliged and handed him $400, but the thief had overlooked one simple fact: his message was scribbled on a piece of his payslip. Detectives found the other half of the payslip outside the bank, complete with the bank robber’s name and home address.

You can probably imagine what happened next.


The Extremely Long Trail of White Cash Register Tape


One of the most ridiculous robberies ever committed took place in Hickory, North Carolina. An unobservant thief invaded Captain’s Galley restaurant and picked up the cash register but didn’t notice a little detail: a trail of white cash register tape hanging from the machine.

All the police had to do was to follow the trail to his apartment, finding him cracking open the register.


Stealing the Wrong Bag


One thief got more than he could handle when he reached into the window of a parked car and snatched a bag. The bag belonged to a professional snake catcher named Brad McDonald.

Can you guess what was inside the bag? Yep, a highly venomous snake McDonald had just captured from an underground car park in Sydney. Rumors have it that the thief surrendered with his own will to the cops in an attempt to save himself from the snake.


"Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda"


Back in 1985, Dennis Newton was on trial for robbing a convenience store. While he was defending himself, claiming to be innocent, he got angry with the store manager who identified him as the robber.

Not being able to control his temper, he jumped up and screamed, “I should have blown your F*&^%$ head off.” After that, he tried to correct himself by saying, “Well, if I had been the one that was there.”

This is how criminals defended themselves back in the 1980s? Really?


A Thief's Bad Memory Got Him Caught


Two officers in Detroit, Michigan, were demonstrating their patrol car’s felon locating system to the children of a neighborhood during an educational lesson. A man named R.C. Gaitlan walked up to them and asked them about the process.

To show him how the system worked, they asked him to give them his ID or driver’s license as part of the demonstration. When they placed his driver’s license in the system, they found out that the man was wanted for a robbery committed two years previously and arrested him.


The Thief Who Wrote His Name at the Crime Scene


An 18-year-old burglar who vandalized a children’s campsite building got caught because he wrote his name on a wall at the scene.

Peter Addison from Manchester, UK, and a friend of his smashed crockery and let off fire extinguishers. Apart from writing his own name in black marker pen everywhere on the building, he also left his gang’s name on the wall: The Adlington Massiv.

The little fella must have wanted to get caught. No other logical explanation would suffice … other than him being extremely stupid.


Escaping with a Wheelchair

Using a wheelchair to escape a crime scene isn’t the best solution for criminals. However, a Texan duo thought it might be worth a try. Noemi Duchene attempted a knife-point robbery at a jewelry shop while her accomplice, Luis Del Castillo, waited outside with the getaway vehicle: a wheelchair.

Duchene, who lived near the shop, was tackled by a customer before she and her friend departed in what might have been the slowest escape in history.


Dude Uses Dog as Excuse


Let’s be honest; there has likely been at least once in your life when you had to make a silly excuse to justify something you did; hopefully, it was not as stupid as the following story.

While being handcuffed, after leading police on a high-speed chase, Reliford Cooper III claimed that it was his dog driving the car. What’s even worse than his excuse? There was no dog in the car!!!


The Car Thief Who Couldn't Drive


When you’re trying to steal a car, there is one requirement that is needed: an ability to drive. One young thief named Mganga Mganga didn’t know about that “unwritten rule.”

So, this teenager tried to steal a car from a woman in Omaha, Nebraska. Unfortunately for him, the car was a manual and the little fella couldn’t even start it.

After trying desperately for seven minutes to start the car, the police showed up and arrested him.


Burglar Falls Asleep during Robbery


In 2015, a thief from New Hampshire got arrested for breaking into a couple’s home. The good news is that the police didn’t have to try hard (or at all) to arrest him, as the man literally fell asleep during the burglary.

The police officers found and arrested a sleeping Renaud “Junior” Plaisir the morning after he had slit a screen to break into the home.


Wise Wasn't "Wise" After All


In Tulsa, Oklahoma, suspected shoplifter Jacob Wise sneakily removed security tags from clothes he was planning to steal from a store.

The alarm went off anyway as Wise strolled through the exit. Why? Apparently, Wise wasn’t as wise as his name suggests; he had put the removed tags in his pocket.


The "Serial" Bike Thief


What’s worse than making one mistake? Probably making two mistakes, right? This is exactly what a 57-year-old man from Richmond, Virginia, did a few years back.

Initially, he stole a bike. Then, he had the not-so-bright idea of trying to sell it online (through Craigslist) to the person he had stolen it from without even knowing it.

When the police officers “visited” his house, they discovered more than 10 bicycles, 57 bicycle tires, 24 bicycle wheels, 26 bicycle wheels with tires, 21 bike seats, 4 bicycle frames, a gun, and ammunition.


Leaving a Birth Certificate Behind


Truth is that there are a lot of things a common thief can leave at the scene of a crime. No one is perfect, after all. However, leaving a birth certificate behind may be one of the silliest in history.

In 2001, a dude from Boston named Zachary Tentoni did just that when he snatched $40 from a woman. In the process of fleeing the scene, he left behind a couple of bags, which contained his birth certificate and a letter from his mother.


Lemon Juice Didn't Do the Job


One day in 1995, a middle-aged man robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight. He didn’t wear a mask or any sort of disguise. He also smiled at surveillance cameras before walking out of each bank.

Later that night, the cops arrested a shocked McArthur Wheeler. When they showed him the surveillance tapes, Wheeler stared in disbelief. “But I wore the juice,” he mumbled. Apparently, Wheeler truly believed that rubbing lemon juice on his skin would make him invisible to video cameras!!!


Polygamy Was the Case


When Frank E. Blake’s second and third wives both showed up to visit him while he was serving time in a Virginia jail, police realized that he hadn’t divorced his second wife before marrying his third wife.

After doing some research, they found out that Blake hadn’t even divorced his first wife. Frank’s polygamy ended up adding some time to his sentence.


"Gangster" Betrayed by His Social Media


In 2012, Michael Baker from Jenkins, Kentucky, made “history” in his own mind but for all the wrong reasons. After he siphoned gas from a local police car, he posed next to it with a big smile on his face (while also proudly giving the finger) for the camera.

He then posted the photo on Facebook. The photo went viral with thousands of views, but a couple of days later the police knocked on his door and arrested him.


Not Athletic Enough for Burglary


It was too late for John Pearce when he realized that a daylight burglary may require natural athleticism and more specifically, climbing skills.

Pearce found this out the hard way when he tried to break into a house by climbing through the window. His foot got caught, leaving his backside dangling in view of passersby on the busy sidewalk.

Eventually, the police arrived and he was arrested, but not before being ruthlessly humiliated and mocked by pedestrians who couldn’t resist laughing at and joking about his situation. (We probably would have had the same response.)


Paint Everywhere


Albert Jackson Dowdy could have easily been a character from Home Alone films … and that’s not an overstatement.

Dowdy tried to break into a home by smashing a glass door with a paint can. Unfortunately for him, the can bounced off and broke open. Dowdy eventually got inside but all he collected was a can of tuna fish and a box of oatmeal.

On his way out, however, the man stepped in the spilled paint. Officers followed the paint footprints to a nearby motel and arrested him while he was enjoying his lunch: tuna fish with oatmeal.

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