We’ve all groaned at the stupid mistakes movie criminals make but the dumbest criminals actually exist in real life. One tiny mistake (or a huge one in some of these examples) can lead authorities straight to the suspect. Even notorious lawbreakers aren’t immune to missteps. Here are some famous and dumb criminals foiled by their fingerprints:
An Extremely Stupid Criminal Excuse
There have been tons of dumb criminal excuses, but this one definitely makes the top of the list. A man allegedly robbed a Hollywood, Florida apartment. Upon leaving the home, he was confronted by the burglary victim, but fled. After running, he realized he left his cell phone at the scene of the crime. He called the phone in an attempt to get it back and a detective answered. He informed the detective that he needed to pick up his cell phone and gave his name. He was promptly arrested and the fingerprints on his phone linked him to five other burglaries that had gone unsolved. His excuse in court? He tried to claim his phone was stolen. This obviously didn’t fly given the victim had witnessed him exiting the house.
A Bathroom Pit Stop
An 82-year-old woman was murdered in her home in Schenectady, NY. The alleged perpetrator, Michael Briggs, really had to pee and used the bathroom. When police investigated, they found his fingerprints on the toilet seat and handle. He was sentenced to 30 years to life in state prison.
The Night Stalker Found Through a Fingerprint
Richard Ramirez, dubbed the Night Stalker, terrorized Southern California in the mid-1980s. He broke into homes and assaulted and, in many cases, killed his victims. One night someone noticed a suspicious car and phoned the police. The vehicle happened to be near the scene of the latest attack. Police found the abandoned car and lifted a fingerprint from it. They matched the print to Ramirez and gave his mugshot to various media outlets to publicize. Citizens, who recognized him from the photo, captured him. He was arrested and sentenced to death.
When Stupid Criminals Strike the Same Place Twice
David Scott, a pretty shoddy U.K. burglar, broke into a home and left a fingerprint on a drawer where a moneybox was hidden. He wasn’t caught at the time. Three years later he broke into the same house and handled the same moneybox, leaving his fingerprints in the area again! This time his prints were presumably on file and he was taken into custody.
A Lack of Fingerprints Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Get Caught
Robert Phillips, a gangster who went on a crime spree in the 1940s, is famous for successfully removing his fingerprints by having skin from his chest grafted to the tips of his fingers. Unfortunately for him, having no prints was just as unique as fingerprints themselves. He was eventually identified by his palm prints and the glaringly obvious blank spaces where fingerprints should have been.
Oops. Forgot About the Victim’s Prints
George “Machine Gun” Kelly is a famous criminal from the Prohibition era in the U.S. Kelly and a sidekick kidnapped Charles Urschel, a wealthy oilman. After a ransom was paid, they released their victim. In spite of the fact that Urschel was blindfolded, he believed he was held in a farmhouse and recalled a variety of details that allowed authorities to determine an approximate location. During his captivity, he left as many fingerprints as possible on everything he was able to touch in the house, which turned out to be owned by Machine Gun Kelly’s father-in-law. The police were able to identify Urschel’s fingerprints proving he was held on the farm. Kelly received a life sentence.
There you have it: Some of the dumbest and most famous cases of criminals being caught by their fingerprints. Pacific Fingerprint Services Inc. of Surrey BC is an RCMP accredited agency. We offer electronic fingerprint services for everything from criminal name checks to medical marijuana licensing. Contact us today to get started. Just remember not to go on a crime spree.