America’s Dumbest Criminals

A lineup of bumbling crooks who practically caught themselves.

By William Beaman from Reader's Digest | September 2006

No More Free Minutes
Cops are used to people phoning in to report a crime. But it’s not every day that the call comes from the criminal himself. That’s just what happened last December in Nevada, according to this account from Clark County police:

Jereme Botiz, 18, and an accomplice drove up to a Payless shoe store in downtown Las Vegas. After his friend staked out the place, Botiz rushed inside, cloaked in a hooded sweatshirt, a blue bandanna covering his face. Brandishing a pistol, he cracked it against the head of a store clerk, sending her to the floor. Then, tossing a backpack her way, he ordered the terrified woman to fill it with money from the store’s safe.

Once he had the cash, Botiz raced outside, where he was nearly hit by a woman searching for a parking space in the lot. Dodging her vehicle, Botiz ran to his getaway car and, in seconds, was gone.

He left something behind, though. The woman noticed his discarded cell phone lying on the pavement and, after she finished parking, took it inside the store.

Police detectives arrived soon after, and were handed the gift of the phone. Just as they were deciding what to do next, the cell phone rang. One of the detectives answered, and a man’s voice said that the phone belonged to a guy named Jereme, who needed it back. “Who’s this?” the detective asked. But the caller hung up.

Minutes later the phone rang again, and the detectives had one of their female colleagues answer. This time, the voice said he was Jereme and he wanted his phone back. Pretending to be a ditzy shopaholic, the detective chatted with him about how she and her boyfriend were at Payless trying to find a good bargain. Jereme couldn’t resist asking if anything was going on in the parking lot. The detective talked on about her shopping exploits, until Jereme finally cut her off. “Lady, stop it! I just want my phone back.”

The detective suggested they meet the next day at a nearby Starbucks and Jereme said he’d be there — wearing a Tennessee Titans football jersey, so he’d be easy to recognize.

Sure enough, the next day, police waiting at the Starbucks saw a man stroll in, wearing a Titans jersey, looking a bit nervous. He had reason to be. Jereme looked up to see his accomplice being apprehended back at the car, and he broke into a run. Police caught up with him within a mile. His trial is set for October.

Recounting the Botiz incident, Clark County prosecutor Frank Coumou can’t help but laugh. “After 15 years on the job,” he says, “I’m still amazed at how stupid these guys can be.”

Keep the laughs coming every week!

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