Hollywood often portrays criminals as masterminds capable of plotting devious capers that evade all but the sharpest of crime fighters. In real life, however, that's rarely the case. In fact, most criminals are stupid and desperate. They are often their own worst enemy when it comes to avoiding arrest. Here's five examples of how something as simple as a cell phone foiled the plans of these “evil geniuses.”
#5 - If you're going to plan a crime, avoid doing so via text message.
First up is 17-year-old Christopher Franko, and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Dana Saltzman. On May 7, 2010, they were arrested for plotting to shoot up their high school. The plot was revealed in their text message history, with one message reading “May we kill as many as possible and teach these bastards a lesson." Their obviously well-thought out plan included researching home-made bombs and attempting to purchase a shotgun, which they were turned down for because neither one was 18. Interesting side note, Franko was arrested and plead guilty to making similar plans back in 2007.
#4 - Think twice before you use a stolen cell phone to snap your own picture.
Our next criminal genius was caught in a similar fashion. 21-year-old Korey Woodard, with the help of some friends, jacked a cell phone from a University of Illinois student. Korey must have needed it to snap a new picture for his OK Cupid profile, because after he stole the phone, he connected it to his computer to transfer the pictures off the phone. What our fine young criminal failed to realize was the university student had his phone set to automatically upload all new pictures to his Facebook profile when it connects to a computer. Two days after the phone was stolen, a picture of Woodard's smiling face appeared on the victim's profile.
#3 - Before you mug someone, make sure your cell phone is securely holstered.
Four young men executed the perfect late night mugging. Derek Kelly, 22, Craig Speakman, 23, and their two 17-year-old underlings waited in the shadows until they spotted their victims. A 19 year old man and his 21 year old girlfriend were walking home after a quick run to a nearby store, when the four muggers stopped them at gun point. They pushed the two victims to the ground and pistol whipped the man into submission before making off with their wallets and recently purchased food. They would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for the cell phone that fell out of one of the assailant's pockets. In a stroke of pure genius, he decided to head back to the scene of the crime to pick it up where the suspects were arrested by police.
#2 - If you're going to hide your kidnapping victim in a booby trapped bunker, don't let her borrow your cell phone to play games.
In September of 2006, Vinson Filyaw abducted then-14-year-old Elizabeth Shoaf by posing as a police officer. After a long, disoriented walk through nearby woods, he locked Shoaf in an underground bunker near the trailer he lived in. There, only a mile away from her home, he held her in captivity for 10 days. He must have been sympathetic to the boredom his victim experienced living through a monotonous routine of repeated raping, because Filyaw let Shoaf borrow his cell phone to play games. After he fell asleep, she wasted no time in sending text messages to her mother and several friends. They contacted the police, who then triangulated her position from nearby cell towers. Filyaw fled after hearing he was under pursuit on his battery powered radio, and was later arrested.
#1 - If you're going to use prepaid cell phones to plot an international terrorist attack, switch to a new phone often.
What is it with terrorists lately? First, we've got the explosive underwear bomber in Detroit who only succeeded in blowing up his own pants. Now, the failed bombing of Times Square in New York. As if not having your bomb go off wasn't embarrassing enough, Faisal Shahzad was tracked down because of a prepaid cell phone he used while coordinating the attack. Instead of using multiple prepaid phones, Shahzad used one phone for the 12 days he spent making arrangements. Apparently, Shahzad didn't watch enough episodes of 24 to know that, though. This is probably the most ridiculous example of criminal stupidity in the list.
So there you have it. 5 shining cases where a cell phone was the downfall of law breakers. If you're going to delve into the world of crime, make sure you're smarter than they were. Let's review five things to avoid with your cell phone when breaking the law.
Don't plan your caper via text message.
Don't snap your picture with a stolen phone.
Don't forget to buy a holster for your phone.
Don't let your victims borrow your phone.
And remember to switch phones often to avoid being tracked down.
If you follow the above tips, your life of crime should be fruitful and free of police intervention.