by Janet Spencer

Come along with Tidbits as we laugh over less than lucky criminals!


In Detroit, two car thieves broke into a mini-bus and were so busy ransacking the back that they failed to note the presence of two undercover cops sitting in the front. The officers simply put the car in gear and drove the robbers to the police station.

• In 1933 a burglar in Paris decided to rob the home of a dealer in antiques. To blend into the background, he decided to wear a suit of armor. The owner, awakened by the sound of clanking metal, pushed the intruder over, pinned him under a heavy piece of furniture, and called the police. When the police arrived, they found that the armor had been so badly dented that they were unable to get him out. It took 24 hours to remove the armor, during which time the robber had to be fed through the visor.

• In Wheatley Heights, New York, Eric Williams broke into 92-year-old Conrad Schwarszkopf’s apartment. The burglar beat the elderly man and shoved him into a closet. It happened to be the closet where Schwarszkopf kept his gun. Schwarszkopf stepped out of the closet and shot Williams. Williams staggered into the street, where he was quickly arrested. (cont)


A thief in Rio de Janeiro was burglarizing a home when he awakened the sleeping occupants. Running from the house in panic, he jumped into a bathtub in the backyard of the house next door. In the tub was what he thought was a large log. When the log showed its teeth, he realized it was actually a large alligator. He jumped out of the tub and into the hands of the cops.

• In 1977 Filbert Maestas of Denver broke into a warehouse in Denver and stole a lot of beef. He was caught in the act. Cops informed him that he had just stolen 1,200 beef rectums destined for use as rennet at the cheese factory. After being read his rights, he said, “If I go to jail for stealing 1,200 beef rectums, I’m really going to be mad.” When that statement was used against him in court, he appealed, saying that the remark was obtained illegally because he’d been thrown off guard because the cop was laughing. The court denied the appeal, saying the officer had a right to laugh.

• When a robber walked into a jewelry store in England and shouted, “This is a stick up!”, he couldn’t understand why everyone started laughing. Then he realized he had forgotten to remove the cork from the end of his realistic-looking pop gun. Police arrested him as he fled the store.

• A teenaged boy broke into a store in Phoenix in 1980. When he tripped the burglar alarm, cops surrounded the store and ordered the boy to come out. When he refused, they threatened to send in their vicious police dog, even though the department had no vicious police dog. When the teen refused to obey, Officer Al Femina growled and barked in imitation of a German shepherd. “Don’t let him get me!” shouted the boy as he exited the shop with his hands in the air. Looking around for the feared canine, he saw only a grinning cop.



Two men were robbing a convenience store while their female accomplice waited at the wheel of the get-away car. When the robbers returned with the loot, they found the car empty. The woman had decided to use the restroom, and she took the keys. Police arrived while they were waiting for her to return.

• Two 17-year-old boys robbed the Seafirst Bank in Seattle in 1991. The battery in their get-away car went dead at the crucial moment. When they got out to check under the hood, the doors automatically locked behind them. The key was in the ignition, the money was locked in the car, the battery was dead, and they didn’t have a spare key, so they took off running. They ran smack into the police car.

• In 1931 a couple of would-be bank robbers in Shelby, Kentucky, stole a truck to use as their get-away vehicle. They parked it right outside the bank while they went in to do the robbing. While they were busy with the hold up, the rightful owner of the stolen truck happened by. Seeing his truck in front of the bank, he hopped in and drove away. The two robbers, laden with bags of money, rushed outside to find their get-away vehicle gone.

• To guard against recognition, a bank robber in London wore three stocking masks and a scarf over his face. He announced he had a gun and ordered everyone to lie down, then reached into his pocket to pull out his gun. However, his vision was obstructed so completely that instead of a gun, he pulled out his glasses case. After a few minutes of brandishing this unusual weapon at the amused hostages, he fled. He was quickly arrested.

• James Gallo and Joe Conigliaro wanted to murder Vinny Ensulo because they thought he was a stool pigeon. On Nov. 1, 1973, they took him for a ride. Gallo pointed a gun at his head from the right, and Conigliaro aimed from the left. The car swerved suddenly. The two gangsters shot each other. (cont)


Prisoners at the Saltillo Prison in northern Mexico spent months digging an escape tunnel in 1975. They carefully calculated the length needed to take the tunnel beyond the prison walls. The tunnel did reach beyond the prison walls– and came up in the nearby courtroom. All 75 convicts trying to escape through the tunnel were quickly apprehended.

• Richard Savaria was in jail in Billings, Montana, facing a charge of felony theft. He stepped out of a line of prisoners and fled from two deputies, making a clean escape. Just two hours later a local barber called police to report that a new customer had shown up in his shop requesting a shave and a haircut. The barber was suspicious of the man and requested police come check the guy out. Sure enough, it was the escaped prisoner. What tipped the barber off? The handcuffs the guy was wearing.

• In 1985 Barry Crosby escaped from England’s Stanford Hill Prison by scaling the wall. Once outside, he flagged down a car, hoping to hitchhike to freedom. The car was driven by an off-duty police officer. The convict was driven straight to the local police station.

• A prisoner once escaped from a minimum security prison but was caught later when he appeared as a contestant on “The Dating Game” and was recognized. He had also taped two performances on “The Gong Show.”


A Houston, Texas, resident was interested in becoming a cop. One of the questions on the application asked if he had ever had a police record. He said no, but admitted he once held up a liquor store and never got caught. Needless to say, he didn’t get a job on the police force. For his honesty, he was arrested and jailed, not only for armed robbery but also for illegal possession of a gun, which officers found on him when they frisked him.