4 Criminals Who Got Away With It

by Criminal Defence Blawg on January 14, 2013

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If you’ve ever seen a news report or read an article about a potential crime gone awry thanks to the lawbreaker’s own moronic actions, it’s easy to assume that most thieves aren’t the brightest bulbs in the bunch. Falling asleep on someone’s couch during a burglary or attempting to pay for items with counterfeit bills that don’t even exist—someone should tell these geniuses that there’s no such thing as a thousand-dollar bill—both come to mind.

On the other hand, there are crafty criminals who—unfortunately—get away with their dirty deeds. Here are four of the most “successful” bad guys of all time:

1. Carl Gugasian, Bank Robber Extraordinaire

One of the most fruitful criminals in U.S. history, Carl Gugasian, was shot in the 1960s while he was attempting to rob a candy store at the tender age of 15. After his release from a state youth facility, he decided to excel in his life of crime rather than turn his life around. While earning several degrees and serving in the U.S. Army, where he received Special Forces and weapons training, Gugasian began planning bank robberies in his spare time. He was a thorough planner, selecting banks in small towns near woodsy areas and with easy access to highways. After observing the bank’s employees from afar for several days, Gugasian would enter the bank wearing a gruesome horror movie mask, such as the character Freddie Kruger, mere minutes before closing time to ensure that it would be nearly empty. He was eventually caught due to his own bad luck when two boys accidentally found his hidden collection of weapons, ammunition and masks, all of which were covered in his fingerprints. Even so, Gugasian has gotten away with at least 45 armed bank robberies—substantial evidence existed to convict him of just five robberies.

2. James Strode, Pharmacy Crook

In 2006, James Strode hid his face behind a scarf and strolled into a Seattle Rite Aid pharmacy, where he grabbed an employee around the throat and warned “give me all the money or someone is going to get stabbed.” Police report details prove that this incident was one of the most menacing in Strode’s criminal “career,” which spanned two decades and four states and included multiple burglary convictions, an attack on a public safety officer, and a bank robbery. Strode should have been in federal prison when the Rite Aid robbery occurred, but an appeals court concluded that the federal prosecutor in charge of his bank robbery case made improper arguments to the jury. Originally sentenced to stay behind bars for a decade, Strode was released early and held up the Rite Aid just a year later.

3. Paris Museum Burglar

In a scene straight out of classic movie lore, this heist was a smooth operation by a smooth operator. In 2010, a single thief broke into the Paris Museum of Modern Art and stole a variety of masterpieces by acclaimed artists such as Matisse and Picasso. How? Thanks to the fact that the museum did not have a working burglar alarm, the thief simply broke a window, entered the museum, removed the artwork from its frames, and carried out the paintings undetected. Although security guards were in the museum at the time of the heist, they did not hear anything afoul and did not notice the missing artwork nor the smashed window. Perhaps this served as a good reason to invest in a burglar alarm and a new team of guards?

4. The Baker Street Burglary

Who says you need today’s advanced technologies to plan a master crime? Back in 1971, a team of thieves in London tunneled into the Lloyds Baker Street Bank Vault using a variety of metal cutting tools and explosives. Once inside the vault, they stole millions in cash and other valuables from safety deposit boxes. A ham radio operator even overheard walkie-talkie transmissions between the robbers and their lookouts and alerted local police, who began scouting multiple banks throughout the area. The police even searched Lloyds while the robbers were in the vault, but they did not catch them! Several of the men involved were charged in connection to the heist a few years later, but the “mastermind” behind the entire crime was never detained.

References:

http://listverse.com/2011/07/27/10-truly-successful-thieves/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Gugasian

http://harpers.org/blog/2010/12/how-prosecutorial-misconduct-helps-criminals-get-off/

Featured images License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://bigstockphoto.com

Jon Reiter is a marketing agent for http://hulenlaw.com/, an expert Denver car accident lawyer.

You can also contact a criminal lawyer at the top right of this page.

Criminal Defence Blawg

Criminal Defence Blawg

Criminal law blogger at CriminalDefenceBlawg
Criminal Defence Blawg is a criminal law blog, sharing legal expertise and intelligence from the UK, US, Australia and beyond. Contributions from those who share great legal information. Want to get published? Contact us today.
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