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10 Craziest Theft Stories that Will Leave You in Stitches

6. In 1972, John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturile made an ill-fated attempt to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank to pay for the gender reassignment surgery of Elizabeth Eden, whom Wojtowicz had married. The pair’s plan failed and they were quickly surrounded by police, which led to a hostage situation that lasted over 14 hours. Naturile was killed by the FBI and Wojtowicz was arrested. The 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon was based on this incident.

John Wojtowicz
John Wojtowicz. Image Credit : Nydailynews.com

In 1972, 27-year-old John Wojtowicz and his friend Salvatore Naturile decided to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn to pay for the gender reassignment surgery of Elizabeth Eden, a trans-woman who had married Wojtowicz a year before.

Armed with a .38 caliber handgun, a shotgun, and a rifle, the two robbers and one other accomplice, Robert Westenberg, entered the bank. According to the plan, Westenberg was supposed to hand over the demand note to the bank manager. However, he got scared after seeing a police car on the street and fled the scene before the robbery started.

Wojtowicz and Naturile held seven bank employees hostage for 14 hours. Wojtowicz had worked as a bank teller and had some knowledge of bank operations. He also drew his inspirations from various scenes of the movie The Godfather. They went to the cashier and handed him a note that read “This is an offer you can’t refuse.”

During this time, Naturile surveyed the street and realized that they were surrounded by the police. During a standoff with the police, Naturile seemed nervous, highly strung, and volatile. Wojtowicz, on the other hand, was much more composed.

When the NYPD and FBI ambushed the robbers, Naturile got shot in the chest at close range and was mortally wounded. Wojtowicz surrendered and was arrested. Naturile was rushed to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival. Wojtowicz ended up serving five years in prison.

The 1975 crime drama, Dog Day Afternoon, was inspired by this event. Al Pacino played the part of Wojtowicz and John Cazale played the part of Naturile. (1, 2)

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7. Four months before the 1966 FIFA World Cup kicked off in England, the Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen. After a lengthy search and rescue operation, the trophy was finally recovered by a dog named Pickles.

Jules Rimmet trophy
Image Credit : Fifamuseum.com, BBC.com

On 20 March 1966, four months before the 1966 FIFA World Cup, the Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen from an exhibit at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. None of the guards had seen anyone enter or leave the room and steal the trophy.

Scotland Yard took charge of the case and later handed it over to the Flying Squad. Guards and maintenance workers were interviewed, and the story became a worldwide sensation by the next day.

The next day, a man who called himself “Jackson” called the chairman of The Football Association and Chelsea F.C., and told him that a package would be left at the Stamford Bridge. The package contained a £15,000 ransom demand and a removable lining from the trophy. The package was turned over to the police and they arranged to meet “Jackson.”

However, when the police apprehended the man who had mailed the package, his real name turned out to be Edward Betchley, and he claimed that he was only the middleman. The real culprit was never identified. Betchley was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.

The rest of the trophy was found on 27 March, seven days after it was stolen. A man named David Corbett had taken his dog, Pickles, out for a walk when the four-year-old collie discovered the trophy wrapped up in newspaper lying by a neighbor’s car. Later, when England won the trophy, Pickles was invited to the celebration banquet. Corbett also collected a handsome reward of nearly £5,000. (1, 2)

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8. Two burglars tried to hide their identities by drawing on their faces with permanent markers. Needless to say, they were identified and caught.

Matthew McNelly & Joey Miller
Joey Miller and Matthew McNelly.

In 2009, two would-be burglars named Joey Miller and Matthew McNelly broke into a home in Carroll, Iowa. Unlike the common burglars who wear either stockings or ski masks to hide their faces, these two went for a unique disguise – permanent markers. The men, who were found wearing hooded sweatshirts, had painted their faces with permanent black markers.

A witness saw the two men breaking into the house and called the police. When the authorities stopped a vehicle that matched the witness description, they were stunned to find the two grown men with painted faces inside. However, their strange and stupid disguise made it easy for the officers to identify them. Both men were arrested and charged with attempted burglary. (1, 2)

9. When an armed burglar tried to rob a beauty salon in Russia, the salon’s owner beat him senseless before tying him up and keeping him in a backroom as a sex slave for three days to teach him a lesson. After being released, the robber went to the hospital and then to the police to file a sexual abuse complaint. 

Image is used for representational purpose only. Image Credit : Unsplash.com

In 2011, an armed burglar named Viktor Jasinski tried to rob a beauty salon in Russia. Unbeknownst to him, the salon’s owner, Olga Zajac was a black belt. She used her martial art skills and beat the intruder senseless.

When Jasinski was semi-conscious, the salon owner stripped his clothes, tied him up, and cuffed him to a radiator in a back room. The 28-year-old shop owner then fed her hostage Viagra and used him as a sex slave for three days just to teach him a lesson.   

When Zajac willfully released the tired out robber, he went straight to the hospital to treat his swollen testicles. After that, he went to the police to file a complaint. He told the police everything about his three-day-ordeal. The police arrested both the robber and the shop owner.

When the police interrogated Zajac, she said, “What a b******. Yes, we had sex a couple of times. But I bought him new jeans, gave him food, and even gave him 1,000 rubles when he left.” (1, 2)

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10. A knife-wielding robber in China stole from a woman inside an ATM, but when he noticed her balance was zero, he returned the money with a smile on his face.

In 2019, a Chinese robber became famous as the “world’s kindest crook” after his encounter with a woman inside an ATM.

The woman was withdrawing money when she was accosted by a man wielding a knife. Terrified, the woman quickly gave him the 2,500 yuan (around $371) that she had withdrawn just then. The man was unsatisfied with the amount.

So, he asked her to show her the balance. When he saw that her account was at zero, he smiled and gave her the money back before walking away.

The incident was caught on CCTV and the man was later identified and captured by the police. Despite his original intention of robbing the woman, the man was praised on Chinese social media for his kindness. (1, 2)

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