More of America’s Dumbest Criminals

A lineup of bumbling crooks who practically caught themselves.

By William Beaman from Reader's Digest

The Great Computer Caper
What’s the most jaw-droppingly stupid thing you could do if you’re on trial for attempting to steal computer equipment? Ask Jon Eipp.

His strange story began with burglar alarms at Portal Publications in Novato, California, just north of San Francisco. Police rushed to the scene and caught Eipp, 39, and an accomplice running away, leaving an array of stolen computer equipment outside the office building.

Both men were arrested, and Eipp’s trial began last fall in the Civic Center courthouse in neighboring San Rafael. Two days into the proceedings, some Civic Center employees showed up for work, went to their cubicles and got quite a surprise. Their computers and monitors had been swiped. Yep, Jon just couldn’t help himself.

The previous evening, after his hearing, Eipp had hidden on a balcony until the Civic Center pretty much cleared out. Then he ducked into room C-10, loaded computer equipment into a recycling bin and wheeled his cargo outside. There, he stuffed it all into a large box that he tucked out of sight. Eipp was lucky enough to get his high-tech haul out of the building, but his stupidity caught up with him.

By the time Civic Center workers discovered their equipment had vanished, Eipp was already in police custody. It seems one heist just wasn’t enough: Shortly after leaving the Civic Center, he’d been caught right down the street trying to steal a Volkswagen. Not that he wouldn’t have been nabbed soon enough for the computer job, since fingerprints and a shoe print, along with video surveillance, made it clear Eipp was the culprit.

Now he faced charges that included attempted auto theft, burglary and grand theft. Last September, he pleaded guilty to them all. Speaking to a reporter, Eipp blamed his thievery in the courthouse on a drug problem, saying he’d stolen the computers because “I needed help and didn’t know how to ask for it.”

In the end, Eipp chose to help himself — to about four years in prison.

Next: The World’s Most Embarrassing Injury