Not all crooks were created equal. Some are criminal masterminds, others, however, are about as sharp as a marble. These crimes are so poorly planned that they're funny. Even more hilarious is how some of these average Joes easily stopped them in the act, or watched them foil their own plans. These people describe the time they almost fell victim to a dumb crime, but easily outsmarted the criminal.
All content has been edited for clarity.
"When I worked at Hollywood Video (before that evil corporation went out of business), a man came into my store and bought one bag of popcorn. When I opened the register, he pulled a box cutter out of his pocket and told me to give him all the money.
My first reaction was to laugh. I couldn't believe I was being robbed. He then waved the box cutter around and swore he wasn't horsing around, to which I told him he wasn't getting anything. He said he'd cut me and I told him, 'Good luck climbing over the counter to get me.'
He then placed his hands on the counter and leaned towards me. I grabbed a box cutter of my own and said, 'Look at that, a Mexican stand off.'
Now here is where it gets silly.
The man asked if I was threatening him. I said, 'No sir,' still laughing at the situation. He then proclaimed he was calling the police and I said, 'Please do.' He did and he WAITED for the police to arrive! He told them I brandished a box cutter and threatened his life. I then showed the fine officer our security footage and, wouldn't you know it? He arrested my new friend."
"I work in a car audio store. This bad-boy-wannabe shows up wanting us to install his amplifier right now. All of my installers were busy at the time, and tell him that it wasn't going to happen today. But tomorrow we can.
He gets all upset and tells me his 'boy' will install it himself, all he needs are the wires. I show him our amp kits and he picks one out and pays with a credit card and shows me his ID, which is good. So the next thing I see is this fool grabbing a box with some entry level 12" woofers and running out the door and throwing the box into his ride and peeling out of our parking lot.
The store was pretty crowded and more than a few customers saw what just went down and asked if they should chase this guy down. I couldn't believe that this idiot just paid with a credit card and I checked his name and ID and it matched, so I had all the information I needed to have him arrested.
I just wrote up a ticket and manually punched in the credit card for 3 times the amount - something like $585.99 instead of $169.96. The charge got approved and was never contested either. I hope he enjoys his speakers."
"A year ago, my roommate and I had just finished having a few rounds at a bar and were looking at some posters hanging up on a building. A man walked up to us and told us to give him all of our money. I looked at my roommate and asked if he had any cash. He said no. I then pulled out my wallet, showed him that it had no cash and just a debit card. 'I don't ever carry cash, neither does he.'
'What do you mean you don't carry cash?'
'I mean, just about everywhere accepts plastic now, so we have no reason to carry around money.'
'Yeah, and if you take the card and use it, then the authorities have a record of where you used it, if you can even use it before I could call the company and have it cancelled.'
The mugger seemed confused and then shared: 'I just got out of prison recently and was in there for about ten years. I didn't realize that much had changed since I was on the outside.'
So we gave him a smoke and told him to keep his nose clean before walking away."
"I work at a grocery store, and a few months ago a gentlemen decided to steal some steaks. This is pretty common - steaks are easily the most common 'big' items that get shoplifted here. Most people stick 'em in a coat pocket or something and walk right out. Not this guy. This guy had a better plan. He took them out of the wrapper, and placed them under his hat. Now, if he would have just left the store right now like most people that take stuff, he likely would have gotten away with it. But the meathead decides that that would look suspicious.
So he goes to the register and buys one pack of gum. That's it. Because a guy waiting in line ten minutes to buy a single pack of gum at a giant grocery store doesn't look suspicious. Also, what made him look suspicious, was that there was red juice dripping down his face from the steak. I wish I could have seen it, but apparently it was enough for the cashier to ask if he was OK. He freaks out. They actually call an ambulance for him. He waits for the ambulance to arrive. Obviously, they did not find anything other than meat under that hat.
There was another situation, this one that I actually dealt with personally. I work in the prepared foods department where we sell fried chicken and pre-made potato salads. During the summer, most of our business comes from doing large catering orders, typically for graduation parties. We had a very large order for a 2 o'clock pickup - about a $350 order. The lady who placed the order, who didn't pre-pay for it, which is pretty rare for orders of this size, came in to pick it up at noon. We tell her that we don't have any of her food done yet because we have her down for 2. She starts crying, saying that we messed up, that this was for a funeral reception, etc. She pointed out she already grabbed a large sheet cake from the bakery and that they had her down for a noon pickup. Now I work with some boneheads, so this convinced me maybe someone did mess up taking down her order.
So we're in full panic mode because we had messed up big time here. We slowly piece together about $200 worth of food from anything prepared that we have laying around, and the store manager told us to be prepared to give it to her for free because not only is it less than what she ordered, she ordered fried chicken and potatoes and we're giving her baked chicken and green beans. So we go to ring her out and tell her that we're still going to have to charge her for the cake. I didn't really notice it at the time, but she got weird about it. She said she didn't have the price tag to which I replied, 'No problem, I'll just call the bakery real quick.' So I do. 'Oh, she's getting that cake for free,' replied the employee at the bakery, 'We messed up - she placed the order for noon, but we took her down for 2.'
Huh. What are the chances that two departments mess this up? So I get the store manager and he confronts her, and she runs out of the store crying. We like to think that she really did need to cater an event with $230 worth of food, and since she tried to scam it out of us, she showed up empty-handed.
The cool part is that we got the eat the cake after."
"When I was 19, I was the target of a failed car-jacking by what appeared to be some sort of initiation. It's funny how you remember all the little details of a moment like that.
It was about 10pm, and I pulled up to a red light after having dropped my girlfriend off. There was a late-80's tan Chevy Celebrity in the left turn lane. Suddenly, the driver door of my 1994 Saturn opens and I turn to see a young, maybe 17-year-old female in a black sweatshirt and jeans. Just as I'm registering what I'm seeing, she points a weapon at my head.
'GET OUT OF THE CAR!' She says the words, but her voice is actually quivery. She's clearly very nervous, but she is the one holding a fairly large weapon and pointing it squarely at my head. In the background, I can hear her 'friends'. There's more than two of them, and from their car comes a torrent of derogatory names and insults at me, I suppose as encouragement for her.
I put my hands up. Adrenaline kicks in. My mind goes into this sort of disconnected, hyper-observant state. I find myself analyzing all sorts of weird details while my brain makes what seems like auto-pilot decisions on what to do next.
I consider trying to speed off, but unfortunately I drive a manual and had previously put it in neutral and pulled the hand brake. This is a particularly long red light, as I'm on a small street crossing a major thoroughfare. I could see this girl's finger squarely on the trigger, and she is clearly nervous. I have to assume the weapon is loaded, and she could kill me by accident if I make a sudden move.
I notice that the song I have playing rather loudly, 'Hitherto' by The Cocteau Twins, paints this entire situation in an oddly surreal and appropriately dark light. That thought is suddenly interrupted by her actually hitting me in the forehead. 'I SAID, GET OUT OF THE CAR!'
I decide to do as she says, but I assume her friends are armed too and am actually thinking about the possibility that they might kill me, even if she doesn't. I slowly undo the lap belt - mine was one of those early 90's cars that had those automatic shoulder belts that helpfully move forward when you (or, in this case, an under-aged weapon-wielding girl) open the door. I climb out of the driver seat with my hands up. While doing this, my carjacker and I never break eye contact.
I am now standing between the two cars, abeam the rear doors. My carjacker is standing by the driver door of mine, facing me, and still pointing the weapon at me. I steal a glance at her friends. There are at least four of them. It's dark, so I can't see into their car clearly enough to see if they're also armed. They continue to encourage her and call me names. I see cars stop at the crossing-intersection, notice us, and then speed off. On the one hand, I feel abandoned by them. On the other, I wouldn't want some vigilante to decide to intervene and get me killed. I look back at my carjacker.
Her arms are extended straight ahead of her shoulders - like she is either trying to be extra menacing with the weapon, or wants to hold it as far away from her body as she possibly can. Her finger is still on the trigger. The end of the weapon is shaking. It occurs to me, again, that she could easily accidentally fire this thing. My immediate thought is to try and calm her down.
I hear myself, in a shockingly calm voice, say, 'I'm not going to do anything. What do you want to do now?'
'GIVE ME YOUR LOOT.' Honestly, that's what she said. I know this, because - having several friends who are members of a history group that studies Medieval European cultures - what I hear is 'GIVE ME YOUR LUTE'... and I must have given her the most puzzling look ever displayed by a carjacking victim in all of history. Who even says 'loot'?
'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' Oh, RIGHT! Duh. So I remove my wallet from my pocket and hold it out for her. She snatches it, but then finds herself in the awkward position of having her hands full and not wanting to turn her back on me. She looks from me, to my car door, to me, and back a couple of times like she's trying to work out what to do next. I start backing away slowly. I nod towards my car, sitting there with the door open, engine running, and Cocteau Twins music blaring. 'Go ahead, I'm not going to stop you.'
About the time I get to the back of the two cars, she jumps into mine and closes the door. Her friends peel out through the red light and are almost t-boned by a pickup, which would have totally made my night, but the collision is avoided and they continue on.
I walk around the back of my car to the curb, assessing the area and realizing there's not a gas station or payphone within a block of here (again, it was the early '90s), so I round the corner and start the trek up the larger thoroughfare towards the next block where there are actually gas stations when...
That's when I realize it. I can still hear my car, muffled Cocteau Twins music and all. The engine is revving over and over, and spinning back to idle. The horn beeps. The engine revs again.
I turn around to confirm what I am hearing as the ridiculous realization hits me full force. This girl has no idea how to drive a manual. I look back and see her furiously banging on the inside of my car trying to figure out what to do. The transmission in early '90s Saturns was fairly stiff and the syncros would completely prevent you from forcing it into gear without the clutch, which was apparently all she had thought to try and do. She pulled and shoved and stomped the gas and nothing happened.
Finally, after what must have seemed like forever for her, her friends came back to investigate. A shouted conversation across the road went like this:
'I CAN'T DRIVE A STICK!'
'I CANNOT DRIVE A STICK!!!'
'GET IN THE CAR, STUPID! MAKE SURE YOU GOT HIS WALLET.'
So, that's how, after being carjacked, I was able to drive my own car back home and call 911. I did lose my wallet, but I got this cool story to tell."
"I work at my family's shop and we have a debit/credit machine where we take the card, punch in our store ID/cashier ID, then enter the amount, stick the card in and hand it back.
This one fellow comes in and grabs a six pack from the cooler and comes to the counter. He was the only other person in the store besides a random guy in a corner going through the cheese section, so I rang the six pack in when I saw him grab it. He came up to the till and I asked him how he was doing, he said 'fine'. I told him his total as he was just pulling up to the till, and he mumbled something, reached into his coat, pulled out a weapon, placed it on the counter with the barrel (or whatever you call the part that it shoots from) facing me and slides it a few inches forward.
Due to being so used to people doing that with credit/debit cards, I just stretched out and grabbed the weapon with one hand and the debit machine in the other. He wasn't holding onto it very firmly, so I just pulled it away and I realized as soon as I grabbed it that it was not a credit card. So I froze with his weapon in my hand and the debit machine in the other. We looked at each other and then he bolted, leaving it behind.
I called my uncle and then the cops who came and took a statement told me that the weapon wasn't loaded, so I wasn't really in any real danger. But it's still one of the funniest things that's ever happened to me."
"My sister used to work at a bank in a Walmart, and her coworker had this somewhat older pickup truck (about 15 years old at the time of this story). The truck was pretty unremarkable in every way: stock parts, stock stereo, average looking. Some idiot punched out the driver-side window and stole the CD player, which didn't play past track 7 on any given CD. Instead of disconnecting the plugs like a normal thief, he cut all the wires, making it a stolen, already partially broken CD player that now required repair. The idiot injured his hand in the process and made a mess all over the inside of the truck because he punched the window in, and proceeded to wrap his hand up in one of the girl's spare work shirts.
After taking the CD player, he then walks into Walmart and tries to steal a TV. It wasn't one of the newer TVs that only weighs like 25 pounds - no he went for the big tube TVs that weigh like 80. When he walked out, the alarm went off. He told the person at the door that it was a return, and that he was simply taking his old one back to his car. Keep in mind that he still had a bank teller's polo wrapped around his hand that had an employee's name on it of an employee who was working at that store at that moment.
Of course the friend and the store pressed charges. The friend was also offered an appearance on one of those judge TV shows, but declined because the case was too stupid, even for a daytime judge show."
"I went out at like 2 in the morning to buy some smokes, tried a few shops, but they were all closed. While walking home in sorrow, I was accosted by a young man who asked me quite politely for all of my money. I was a very poor backpacker at the time and the $50 in my pocket was pretty much the last of my money for the month. I showed the guy my empty wallet, hoping he would leave it at that, but he noticed my bus-pass and decided to take that instead. He then handed me 2 smokes and apologized for the 'inconvenience' and walked away.
In a state of semi-shock, I realized that without my bus-pass, I had no way of getting the 5am bus to work (stupid Vancouver transport company), and expressed my frustration out loud. The guy came back and asked me what was wrong. After I explained, he handed me back my bus-pass and said, 'We've all got to make a living somehow.'
So basically I got mugged and came out losing nothing and gaining 2 smokes."
"I used to be a bagger at Kroger when I was 17. As much as I hated the job, I worked there for 6 months. Twice during that time two women had robbed us. They stole carts full of lobster and crab, covering it up with empty carseats with blankets over the top to conceal their stolen stuff. When they were approached by loss prevention the last time, they said they had forgotten their Michigan Bridge Cards. The last idiot actually let them go without checking.
My last week of work, the same two ladies came in again, both with carseats and blankets in their shopping carts. I was going on my break, so I decided to follow them a bit. We weren't required to wear company shirts, just to dress all in black. I followed them to the seafood counter, where they were stuffing their carts full of lobster. The one lady decides to get bold and strolls with her cart into our loading area. She spies cartons full of lobster, and helps herself to about three. She comes back out from behind the doors with the cart loaded and the undercarriage packed with boxes. I overhear them saying when they get to the door, 'Jut RUN girl, I'll hold em off.' So I hurry back and tell my manager what I had seen and heard.
Five minutes later, these women are casually strolling to the front of the store, the chick without the cartons has her 'baby' seat in her arms, ditching the cart. I can see the one is getting ready to make a break for it. We have loss prevention officers outside and have already alerted the cops. They stroll into the flower section, right by the front doors. I walk up and say, 'Oh, I just LOOOOVE babies, can I peek?' and without waiting for a reply, I grab for the blanket. She spins away from me, knocking the carseat into a display by accident, and drops the seat. Everyone sees the lobster packs roll out. People come on the run, thinking I had just hurt a kid...until they realize she was stealing.
Meanwhile, the woman with the cart and cartons is speeding to the doors. I SCREAM at the L.P.O's that it's the thief. They shove her cart over before she hits the second set of doors. She hightails it out of there with a carton of lobster in her hands and gets picked up by some dude in a black SUV. We pressed charges on her friend, and the friend goes to jail.
Best part? Those cases of lobster were marked for return in our loading bay because of a recall due to food poisoning. I hope she and all of her other stolen goods buyers got a severe case of it. I like to think they did. The friend later gave up her name during trial, and we got both of them."
"I was parked in the far end of a parking lot of a 24 hour grocery store, sitting in the driver's seat, checking a few e-mails and letting my window defrost. I had the window rolled down just a tiny bit, basically enough for someone to fit their arm through if they really tried.
A guy approaches from the back, so I hear him and look that way. He tells me to get out of the car. The door is locked and he's holding a blade towards the window. He doesn't have anything else. I just kind of look at him and say, 'No,' with a confused look. My own licensed weapon is in my shoulder holster, but my coat is buttoned up. I'm private security, but have concealed carry permits. I just have it nearly all the time because I'm more used to having it than not.
The guy then awkwardly tries to open the door, can't, then actually sticks his arm in through the tiny part of the window that's rolled down. I immediately hit the button and roll it up, and so he's just stuck there, screaming in pain and pounding on the window with his other hand. He finally drops the blade, and so I let the window down a bit and he runs off."
"I work part-time in a grocery store that is robbed all the time. Like seriously, it's robbed once or twice every month. It's gotten to the point where I now just laugh every time I arrive at work to see the store has been broken into again.
One particular night, just before we were beginning to close, a brazen robber runs into the store who appears to be no older than twenty with a cricket bat and nervously demanded the money from the register. The clerk obeys and gives the man less than $200 (the reward hardly seems proportional to the potential ramifications). At this point, the customers at the front end are backing away and the man attempts to make an escape. As he breaks for the door, while I'm standing in an adjacent aisle where the soup pleasantly happens to be shelved, I grab a big ol' can of tomato soup and give it a friendly toss in the vicinity of his face.
KO. Slam dunk. Hole in one. He takes a comical fall into the flower display in a glorious explosion of flowers and water. Then every male customer jumps on the guy and pins him down until the police arrive."
"Over the last 2 years, I worked at a Jimmy John's, and one day we got robbed. He waited for all of the customers stopped pouring in, and goes to the bathroom for about 15 minutes. Was he about to pee himself from excitement? Did he get a sudden case of food poisoning? I don't know, but a coworker walked by during this time and heard him loudly talking to himself, which I guess was to get pumped up.
Then he finally walks out to a completely empty Jimmy John's, and orders a sandwich. He was clearly nervous and something was up. As soon as the register was open, he goes, 'I have a weapon, give me all your money.'
The girl on the register was a super nice girl, so she totally blanked. However, our general manager at the time, a big guy in his mid 20's who grew up in a bad neighborhood, just nonchalantly goes, 'I don't believe you. Show me your weapon.' The robber starts bickering with our manager, but he stays calm and tells him to show it, so he finally takes his weapon out and waves it at us saying, 'I'll stab you if you don't give me the money.'
Now here's the best part. We all work with blades and they're really sharp, but our manager takes this as a challenge and grabs one of our bread knifes and starts chasing him out the store and down the street. The best part is him running and yelling, 'Coward! Fight me like a man!'
When the police came the guy was gone, but to this day our manager tells that story to every new person we hire."
"I once foiled a clever plan by an elderly man at the department store I used to work at. He had a blazer with countless hidden pockets and he was filling them with bottles of 'Oil of Olay' moisturizer. The loss prevention guy called me to help corner him. As he was leaving the door, he saw that I was looking at him and started to run. We ran after him and he looked back at us. That's where he messed up. He tripped over his own feet and fell like a sack of potatoes. Most of the moisturizer bottles exploded and he was coated from neck to knee. He smelled fantastic though."
"I work at a Costco. For some reason, one of our managers decided that an Xbox Kinect Bundle (about $400 there) should be placed on the pallet right inside the front door. I'm out on carts, just minding my own business. I see this guy driving around, looking for a spot. I only noticed him because his car look like scrap on wheels; his license plate was duct taped to the rear view window. He ends up parking in the handicap spot closest to the door. I notice he hasn't put up a tag, nor does his license plate have a symbol on it, and he looks capable at least. He walks in, quick pace, empty hands, grabs an Xbox, and turns around.
This is the fun part. He noticed me watching him all the way in. As he starts going out the entrance, he asks our door lady where the returns are. He goes around to the exit door, and stands in the fifteen person line, waiting patiently to either make a break for it or to try and return it. I walk up to him, say it's not his. He insists it is. I say, 'Well, let me take it (I take it, he stands there confused), and we'll just bring you to the front of the line. We'll get you out of the cold and on your way home.' His response? 'No way man, it's not even worth it,' walks a few steps away, then runs to his car and takes off.