You’re a dumb criminal if …
… You believe flattery will get you anywhere. Adan Juarez Ramirez had it all figured out—he could be a cop without having to take the boring test. But he was arrested in Grapevine, Texas, after pulling over a driver in his pickup truck, outfitted with flashing lights. He even had an ID badge, which he’d made by blacking out a restaurant gift card and etching in the word "POLICE." However, he’d kept the restaurant’s logo, a jalapeño pepper surrounded by the words "Chipotle Mexican Grill."
… You leave IOUs. Graham Price of South Wales ripped off the bank where he worked, but he wasn’t completely duplicitous. He left a note in the safe: "Borrowed, seven million pounds"—signed "Graham Price."
… You vastly overrate your powers of persuasion. Marlon Moore of Miami filed a fraudulent tax return, and the IRS promptly sent him a $10,000 refund. So figuring, Why not try my luck again?, he sent in three more tax returns. But even the IRS raised an eyebrow at cutting him a check for the total amount of the refunds: more than $14 trillion. Moore pleaded guilty to cashing the $10,000 check.
… You think presidents need a promotion. James Rhyne of Memphis was charged with forgery after he handed a waitress a $100 bill. The waitress knew something was funny with the money: Instead of the portly visage of Ben Franklin, it was the star of the $5 bill, Abe Lincoln, who was staring back at her.
… You leave a paper trail. Hickory, North Carolina, cops were able to solve in record time the mystery of the two cash registers purloined from the Captain’s Galley restaurant. Their big break came when they discovered a trail of white register tape. They followed it 50 yards to an apartment, where, they say, Donny Guy was cracking the registers open.
… You love too much. Maybe Stephfon Bennett should try online dating. After he and two accomplices allegedly mugged a couple in Columbus, Ohio, police say he found the woman’s ID in her purse, then showed up at her door with a simple proposal: How about a date? Since a girl likes to play hard to get, she called the cops, who arrested Bennett outside her home.
… You skimp on travel expenses. Twelve Middle Eastern immigrants forgot the first rule of sneaking into a country: Don’t call attention to yourself. En route to England from Germany, they snuck a ride in the back of a man’s truck. They stayed mum throughout their trip, even as they crossed the Channel into England. But once they hit Dover, they celebrated their arrival with songs and whoops. Not for long, though. The startled driver headed to a police station, where the 12 were apprehended.
… You’re not picky about your office location. Christopher Oxley of Everett, Washington, was arrested for conducting a drug deal over the phone—in the bathroom of the Everett Police Department.
… You’re convinced the laws of physics don’t apply to you. Clive Halford thinks big! The British career criminal stole a truck and loaded it with 18 pallets of stolen nickel and copper worth around £150,000 (about $250,000). Yes, the haul was huge—too huge. Cops arrested Halford after the truck’s suspension collapsed under the weight. Earlier, Halford had stolen a car, overloaded it, and broken its suspension too.
… You text and rob. Nicholas Greenly dropped his cell phone near where an 84-year-old woman had her purse snatched in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Cops suspected that he might be involved in the crime when they read the phone’s last outgoing text message: "I am ready to grab some old lady’s purse."
… You play both roles in a game of cops and robbers. Being a key suspect in a robbery wasn’t going to stop Romeo Montillano from realizing his dream of becoming a Chula Vista, California, police officer. Unfortunately for Montillano, his would-be colleagues put the kibosh on his plans, arresting him when he showed up to take the entrance exam. As he was led away, Montillano had one question: Could he take the test later? His request was denied.
… You make every day Take Your Child to Work Day. Callie Rough of Middletown, Ohio, was picked up for shoplifting from a Dollar General store with her two young children in tow. Among the booty was a book, 101 Ways to Be a Great Mom.
… You take the holidays too seriously. Robert E. Dendy of upstate New York presented the local police station with a Christmas wreath. Since the officers were well acquainted with Dendy, they did some snooping and arrested him for stealing the wreath from a store down the block.
… You let your supply of antismoking patches run out. An Indiana state trooper stopped a car for a traffic violation. When a passenger, Honesty Knight, asked if she could smoke, the officer said yes. She proceeded, police say, to light up a joint.
… You air your neighbor’s dirty laundry. As she walked around her neighbor’s yard sale in Severn, Maryland, the woman couldn’t help admiring the items. The Oriental rug, the luggage, the shoes—they were exactly her style. And why not? They were hers, as was everything else on display. David Perticone says somebody sold him the stuff. But cops think Perticone did the deed himself.
… You can’t let go of your friends. Two New Zealand prisoners had the brilliant idea of fleeing the courthouse while tethered together by handcuffs. They might have escaped had a light pole not gotten between them. Like a pair of click-clacks, they slammed into each other and were arrested trying to get back to their feet.
… You neglect to look up local hotels on your GPS. Mitchell Deslatte walked into a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hotel and asked the clerk for a room. Only, the clerk wasn’t a clerk—he was a state trooper. And the hotel was actually a state trooper station. That’s when Deslatte was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.
… You don’t know when to write off a loss. John Opperman-Green robbed a Kissimmee, Florida, 7-Eleven, then called the cops to complain when he tried to hitch a ride with strangers, who, in turn, robbed him.
… You harbor grudges. Joseph Goetz’s alleged attempt to rob a York, Pennsylvania, bank met with some snags. Cops say the first teller he tried to rob fainted and the next two insisted they had no cash in their drawers. Fed up, Goetz stormed out, threatening to write an angry letter to the bank.
… You leave a far too indelible impression. Victims of a home robbery in Riverview, Florida, easily picked out Sean Roberts from police photos. Turns out, there aren’t too many other people with a map of Florida tattooed on their face. Still, Roberts is pleading not guilty.
… You depend on the kindness of strangers. Christopher Wilson of Spokane left his name and phone number with clerks at a home-improvement store should anyone find something of his that he’d dropped, according to police. They did find something, and Wilson was arrested for possession of methamphetamines.
… Even your wardrobe turns against you. When pleading guilty to a DUI charge, let your lawyer do the talking. New Zealander Keisha Lee Kubala ignored that sensible advice and instead showed up in court wearing a T-shirt that said it all: "Miss Wasted."