Top 20 Dumbest Criminals
So close, yet so… well, still pretty far. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Dumbest Criminals.
For this list, we’re looking at people who attempted to commit a crime, but failed miserably in the process.
#20: The Doorbell Licker
You might not be familiar with Salinas, California, but it’s the hometown of a few famous folks — writer John Steinbeck, performer Vanessa Hudgens, and of course, 33-year-old Roberto Daniel Arroyo, perhaps more commonly known as “the Doorbell Licker.” Sylvia Dungan’s decision to install a Ring doorbell camera into her front door yielded a pretty curious home movie, starring Arroyo as he licked her doorbell for three. Whole. Hours. After the case went viral online, police quickly caught up with him. They pointed out that the clear quality of the footage made him much easier to identify. So, a word of advice to would-be doorknob lickers: maybe make sure to check for a camera before going about your licking?
#19: Dennis Hawkins
Wearing a disguise is great for concealing one’s identity if one is going to commit a crime. Someone should have told Dennis Hawkins that in order for a disguise to work, however, it has to be somewhat believable. Hawkins apparently missed that memo as he attempted to rob a bank wearing clown pants with a pair of fake breasts and a blonde wig. Not only did he fail to cover his face, which still had a goatee and moustache, but the disguise also attracted attention, and the police easily apprehended him.
#18: Daniel Glen
It’s important to be prepared, especially if you are going to rob a store. It is possible to be too prepared, though, which is exactly what happened to Daniel Glen, who unexplainably decided to call ahead to ask the store how much cash was in the register. Imagine how that conversation went: “Hello, I’d like to place a takeout order for all the money! Can I get fries with that?” Confused and slightly alarmed, the store owner immediately called the police, who arrested Glen on his way to the store.
#17: Tony Van
Breaking the law requires a certain audacity. But Tony Van, a 37-year old San Francisco hair stylist, took this to a new level when he drove a stolen car to his own trial. Van was facing charges for possessing a stolen $125,000 Porsche Carrera… so maybe he thought no one would notice when he arrived at court in a stolen Lexus instead. When Yorkshire puppies he’d left inside escaped through a window, sheriff's deputies noticed and ran the license plate. He was charged with possession of a stolen car and computer, as well as animal cruelty.
#16: Trevor Jones
Ever just want to check your Facebook one more time? 34-year old Trevor Jones couldn’t resist when he broke into a house in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in November 2011. Unfortunately for him, he used the home computer to log in. To be fair, it’s no wonder he wanted some social media downtime. A woman whose house he’d tried to rob earlier had seen his car, taken his keys and wallet, and called the police. Jones had to swim a pond to escape, before breaking into another nearby house. Still, he probably should have logged out of Facebook before leaving. Instead, he gave police everything they needed to identify him and issue arrest warrants.
#15: Albert Bailey
We’re going to say this now: if you’re planning on robbing a store or bank, don’t call ahead and ask them suspicious questions or warn them you’re coming. Seemingly inspired by our previous entry, Albert Bailey called the bank and told them he was coming to rob them so that they would have the money ready for him when he got there. He even had an accomplice enter the bank with a note informing the tellers who Bailey was. Obviously, the tellers had called the police, who apprehended Bailey immediately.
#14: R.C. Gaitlan
Curiosity killed the cat, and it also caught the criminal. In 1988, R.C Gaitlin came across some friendly Detroit police officers who were showing off their squad car’s computer to a few local kids. His interest piqued, Gaitlin approached the officers and asked them to give him a demonstration, voluntarily giving them his driver’s license so they could run a background check. The cops complied, and discovered Gaitlin had an outstanding arrest warrant for armed robbery. It wasn’t outstanding for much longer; the police arrested Gaitlin on the spot. Still, he must have been impressed at how well the technology worked.
#13: The Living Dead Burglar
There are times when playing dead might be a smart idea. In the animal world, the Virginia opossum plays dead to avoid predators, and some fish feign death to attract prey. But when a 23-year old man broke into a Spanish funeral home in March 2008, he learned it isn’t the most successful strategy in the human world. When police arrived to investigate the reported break-in, this man tried to fool them by lying on a table in a glass chamber used for wakes. Police were tipped off when they noticed that, for a corpse he was awfully alive - breathing and everything.
#12: Krystian Bala
To commit a crime, you have to be slightly arrogant. If you get away with the crime, this arrogance can increase to the point where you feel untouchable. After murdering Dariusz Janiszewski in 2000, Polish author Krystian Bala wrote a novel titled, “Amok,” which featured an eerily similar murder and details of the case only the murderer himself could have been privy to. Police uncovered clues relating to the murder, most of which came from the novel, eventually arresting and charging Bala. To their shock, they discovered on his computer plans to kill another person to tie-in with the next novel he was planning to write. Bala’s infamy lives on — in 2017, “Amok” was adapted into a feature film by director Kasia Adamik.
#11: Christopher Kron
It’s only polite to answer the phone. It could be someone important - like the company that monitors the alarm you just tripped. On the night of his birthday, 47-year old Christopher Kron broke into the Junkanoo Bar on Fort Myers Beach to steal a bottle of Grand Marnier. When the alarm company called, he not only answered the phone, but also gave his full name. Because he hadn’t hidden his face either, police were able to identify and arrest him the next day based on video surveillance of the break-in.
#10: Eloise D. Reeves
Buying drugs is an art, because you don’t have the option to exchange or refund your purchase if you don’t like the product you get. Apparently no one told this to Eloise Reaves, who had the gall to go to the police to complain about the quality of the crack cocaine she had just bought. She reportedly pulled the crack rock from her mouth and placed it on the cop car for the deputy to inspect. She was charged with the possession of cocaine and fined roughly $1,500.
#9: Jonathan Ochola
People have busy lives, and sometimes the only way to keep track of important events and dates is by keeping a diary. It might be a good idea to leave out any planned criminal activity, however. This seemingly never registered with Jonathan Ochola, who on June 12th, 2010 wrote: “Go Porsmouth (sic) robbery happens” in his diary. The police were able to link him to the robbery as the getaway driver, and when confronted, Ochola attempted to blame it entirely on his buddy.
#8: Mark Smith
We aren’t sure if there is a criminal handbook, but we have to guess that falling asleep in the house you are robbing has to be high on the “things not to do” list. Mark Smith must not have read that page. Smith decided to take a quick nap under his victim’s bed, drunk on vodka and high on Valium, only to be discovered by the homeowner who immediately called the police. We’ve heard of cat burglars before, but Smith seems to associate more with cat nappers.
#7: Christopher Koch
In any criminal endeavor, there’s plenty that can go wrong. But step one is actually getting inside the building you hope to rob. 28-year old Christopher Koch should have looked at the opening hours before attempting to rob a Citizens & Northern Bank in Liberty, Pennsylvania. Wearing a ski mask and gloves, he rushed the door… only to find the bank had just closed. To be completely fair, what kind of bank closes at noon? As Koch sheepishly retreated, employees inside wrote down his license plate number, and he was later arrested.
#6: Derrick Mosley
So, we know you’re not supposed to bring a gun to a knife fight, but what about a baseball bat? This is exactly what Derrick Mosley did as he tried to rob a gun shop and steal a firearm, equipped only with a baseball bat and knife. Of course, the manager pulled out his own gun and held Mosley until the police arrived. Who would have imagined that the manager of a gun store would possess his own gun? Will wonders never cease?
#5: Michael Anthony Fuller
If you’re already committing a crime… why not go big? In 2011, a 53-year old North Carolina man tried to use a one million-dollar bill to buy a microwave, a vacuum cleaner and other merchandise at Walmart. The total price of the goods was $476 - so he was apparently fairly optimistic about how much change Walmart keeps in their registers. Unfortunately, the cashier didn’t have $999,524 on him… and knew there’s no such thing as a one million-dollar bill, leading to Fuller’s arrest. As it turns out, sometimes, when it comes to going big or going home… you should probably just go home.
#4: An Uncanny Resemblance
A fake ID is a teenage rite of passage. But when you show a fake ID, you should make sure you’re not handing it to the actual owner. You know, the one whose face is on the ID you’re holding in your hand. That’s what happened to one 26-year old woman at Applebee's in 2013, when she showed waitress Brianna Priddy her own driver’s license as proof of age. It had been stolen with a bunch of her other possessions a month earlier. Instead of bringing her customer a margarita, Brianna brought the cops - and the thief was caught red-handed.
#3: Ruben Zarate
Deciding to rob a muffler shop, Ruben Zarate brought a gun and demanded the money, only to discover that the money was in the safe that could only be opened by the absent store manager. He decided it would be a good idea to leave his numbers with the store employees so they could call him when the manager returned. Of course, they called the police, who set a trap for Zarate and arrested him. Heck, we’re just surprised Zarate didn’t leave his name, address, and social security number too.
#2: Robber of Halifax Bank in London
Committing a crime is a stressful endeavor, and mistakes do happen. If there’s one thing all robbers should remember, however, it’s that your gun is your most valuable asset. This particular robber seemed to forget that fact as he attempted to rob the Halifax Bank in London. Demanding the teller fill the bag with money, he accidentally gave away his gun to the teller instead of the bag. After a brief moment of confusion, the bank worker retreated, forcing the robber to flee. At least he managed to escape with a bank employee’s bicycle, and so we still don’t know his name.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Ran away from the scene of a crime after finding out the victim’s car was a stick shift
Criminals received notices from undercover cops advertising “free beer” — and showed up
Charles Ray Fuller
Tried to cash a $360 billion check
#1: McArthur Wheeler
When he was arrested for robbing two banks in Pittsburgh in 1995, McArthur Wheeler was genuinely incredulous. His logic had been impeccable: lemon juice is used in invisible ink… therefore if he rubbed his face with lemon juice, no one would be able to see his face. Right? Psychologists who studied the case named it the Dunning-Kruger effect: a cognitive bias in which unskilled people are least able to perceive their own incompetence, and so become overconfident. In other words, when people are really dumb, they can’t see how dumb they really are.