The ten dumbest car thieves of all time

If you're a car thief it's probably safe to assume you haven't made great choices in life, but there's unfortunate and then there's just plain dumb. Jalopnik readers have picked out the ten most bumbling, failure-ridden car thieves in recorded history.


Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Mucibabic

10.) Losing the Japspeed JZ1 Impreza in under a day

Suggested By: ThatDamnDrunk

Why it failed: A group of thieves stole this one-off drift car right out from a display at a car show, but it didn't take long for the police to catch up with them, thanks to the power of Facebook.

Stolen on a Sunday, fans of the car would record whenever they saw it on the road, helping the police to triangulate its location. It was on Monday morning that the car was recovered.

If you're going to steal a car, you should probably make it something slightly more anonymous that a ridiculously loud, lowered-to-the-floor, one-off drift car.


9.) El Camino thief defeated by owner's headlock

Suggested By: IndianaCipher

Why it failed: As it turns out, ElCo owners are a hardy bunch, and they will definitely take the law into their own hands if you try and steal their car/truck.


This owner went vigilante and sprang out on the would-be thief with a devastating headlock, and the immortal words, ‘You ain't callin' your daddy, you goin' to jail." You can see the full news report here.


Photo Credit: kltv


8.) Man steals parade float to sell for scrap

Suggested By: Defender90

Why it failed:Just last week in Polk County, Florida, a 25-year-old man was arrested for trying to steal a parade float and sell it for scrap. He'd picked up the trailer last Friday, fled the parking lot with the float on some back roads, and then dropped it off at a recycling center, where it was found later that day.


As it turns out, parade floats aren't very inconspicuous and are rather easy to hunt down.

Photo Credit: Animal House


7.) Thieves bite off more than they can chew with Ford GT

Suggested By: $kaycog

Why it failed: In one of the more elaborate heists on this list, criminals tried to steal a factory-fresh Ford GT from a California car dealership back in 2005. Breaking in wasn't the hard part, nor was getting the supercar off the premises (all they had to do was push 50 Cent's Mustang GT out of the way and bash in a gate with a sacrificial Lincoln Navigator).


The problem was that they didn't come equipped to handle 550 horsepower. They could hardly drive the GT, running up a curb and ditched the thing just a few miles away with $30K in damages.


Photo Credit: Ford


6.) Defeated by SatNav

Suggested By: RalphieDC

Why it failed: When you're stringing together a series of carjackings, don't leave incriminating evidence on the satellite navigation. I'll let RalphieDC explain:

This one is the dumbest, smart car thief. For about 2 months my mother kept telling me she felt like someone had been in her car, my mother tends to leave about half her life in her car sometimes including a GPS, credit cards and small amounts of cash. So I would ask her "is there anything missing?" to which she would answer no, but things just aren't where I left them. So as I said this goes on for a couple of months until one morning she goes outside to find that a lot of the stuff in her car is now missing and at this point she calls the police.

They find one of the car thieves when she tries to use my mother's credit card and when they arrest her she has my mother's GPS in the car. Back at her house they find stuff that was stolen from my mother as well as from a lot of other car burglaries in the last couple of months, but a lot of the stuff is still missing. So when they are checking through the recovered items one of the cops turns on the GPS and found that only 3 addresses had been entered since it was stolen - the women's partners, the best guess is that since they knew where they lived they all put their addresses in to see how it worked.

We later found out that they had been stealing my mother's car in the middle of the night and using it to go and break into other cars and then returning it - we still don't know how they got a hold of a copy of the chipped key as no damage was ever done to the car.


Photo Credit: Ford in Europe


5.) Man steals cop car with cop still hanging on

Suggested By: nibbyS500

Why it failed: Just this past Sunday in Arizona, a man was pulled over for driving a stolen vehicle, and rather than stop to get arrested, he dashed out of the car, looking like he was going to make a break for it on foot. Actually, he ran right around the police officer and into the cop's cruiser, taking off with the cop still holding on to the vehicle.


The suspect managed to hit a high speed, getting up to an estimated 120mph, but eventually cops managed to shed the cruiser's tires with some spike strips and bring the man to jail. The full story with video can be found here.

Photo Credit: Frank Deandro


4.) Man locks himself in Corvette in front of owner, can't drive, can't escape

Suggested By: McMike

Why it failed: Last month up near Vancouver a man had his Corvette stolen from his driveway at gunpoint, only the thief never really got out of the driveway. When the crook got into the man's Corvette, he locked to doors and windows, so the owner went inside to call the police. When he looked out the window, he saw that the Corvette was still there.


The thief, as it turned out, couldn't drive a manual and just couldn't get the car moving. Moreover, the thief couldn't figure out how to unlock the doors and found himself trapped inside.

Even trying to smash the windows out with a hatchet failed. "As it turns out," said the owner, "all the suspect would have had to do was manually slide the door lock to the side and the door would have opened."


By the time the cops showed up, the man hadn't even made it out of the car.

Photo Credit: GM


3.) Don't steal the winning car of the Daytona 24 hour race

Suggested By: formuladave

Why it failed: Sounding a lot like some attempts to make off with the Mona Lisa, a group of thieves stole the winning Lola prototype of the Daytona 24 hour back in 1969.


The Penske team Lola was stolen while the two crew members in charge of bringing the car home after the race were sleeping after the race. A few weeks later, racer Mark Donohue and the police got a tip to the thieves' location, where they were found trying to fit the prototype's engine into a Shelby Cobra. They'd already torn apart the race car, even chopping the frame into pieces.

The incident cost the Penske Lola its run at Le Mans, and it shows that if you're going to steal a car, don't make it such a famous, easily identified one-off. They tend to attract attention.


Photo Credit:

2.) The internet defeats Canadian Skyline theif

Suggested By: 3TimesTwice

Why it failed: Again, if you're going to steal a car, try not to call attention to yourself. This thief made the mistake of going after a cherished and rare '91 Nissan Skyline.


The owner posted pictures to a forum, another forum member spotted the car (not the hardest thing to do for something so rare), took pictures and the thief got followed home. An arrest quickly followed, complete with some classic YouTube trolling, as you can see.

1.) Man tries to steal car from police parking lot

Suggested By: jguttes

Why it failed: The sheer stupidity of trying to steal a car right in front of a police station is mind-boggling.


That the whole thing went down during a TV interview just captures the brilliance. Needless to say, the guy and the stolen four-door Lumina didn't get far.

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