Animal crimes against humans are real. There are monkeys that mug, sharks that snatch, and foxes with foot fetishes (no shoe is safe). But besides the usual snatch-and-runs, truly crazy situations are going on out there.
Some primates run a genuine extortion business, a thieving cat raised funds for other cats, and an octopus took to photography after robbing a diver.
10 Criminal Critters Who Tangled With The Law
10 A Fishing Boy Was Almost Shark-Slapped
In 2019, a family booked a boat trip near Cape Cod. They spent the day fishing, and at one point, somebody caught a bass. Another passenger filmed the seemingly mundane moment that saw the fish being reeled in. Nobody expected the home movie to turn into a rare spectacular show. But then a shark decided to steal the fish.
The great white, which went unnoticed until it attacked, did not believe in stealth. It catapulted out of the water, flipped through the air in a somersault, and bit the bass in half. The violent acrobatics almost connected a kid’s face with the shark’s tail. But luckily for the boy, it just missed him.
9 The Shoe Stash
In 2020, Christian Meyer left his running shoes on the porch. The next morning, the Berlin resident noticed that one was missing. The theft was upsetting. The shoes were expensive, and he could hardly go running with a single sneaker. He began asking around and realized that many of his neighbors were also missing their footwear.
Meyer eventually identified the thief—a fox. He followed the creature to a thicket, where the man crawled around for an hour. (He was probably spurred on by the price he had paid for the sneakers.)
Then he hit pay dirt. The fox kept a collection of shoes in the brush, and the loot contained nearly 100 clogs, sandals, slippers, and running shoes. Oddly, the shoes most often stolen by the fox were Crocs.
This could just be the tip of the shoe-berg. Since Meyer’s sneaker was never found, the furry burglar might have a second stash somewhere else.
8 A Lab Techie Was Mugged By A Monkey
This was not a monkey that became fed up with laboratory tests and cages. Nope. This was a wild primate that hung around a medical school in India. In 2020, a lab technician left his workplace and the tiny mugger struck.
The monkey attacked the man, pilfered his possessions, and ran off with several medical items. The man took footage of the creature sitting in a tree before telling anyone what had happened.
When campus authorities learned of the incident, nobody gave the human victim a blanket and hot cocoa for comfort. Instead, he was grilled on how he could have allowed himself to be overpowered by a monkey and why he had decided to film the animal instead of immediately raising the alarm.
Despite the funny overtones, the incident was quite serious. Included in the monkey’s loot were blood samples from COVID-19 patients.
7 A Crow-Jacked Credit Card
Crows are smart. Their natural curiosity has allowed researchers to teach these birds remarkable skills. For example, one trainer taught crows how to find coins on the street and drop them into a vending machine in exchange for a peanut.
In 2018, a crow in Japan tried to understand a different kind of vending machine. It hopped around the user panel of a ticket machine at Tokyo’s Kinshicho Station where commuters can buy train tickets with their credit cards.
Maybe it dawned on the bird that those flat plastic things and the machines somehow went together. After fiddling with the machine for a while, it stole a credit card.
A woman used the machine next to the crow’s. When her card was ejected, the bird snatched it. The crow seemed clueless about what to do next and eventually let the woman have her card back. While these birds are superintelligent, the crow might never have realized anything—perhaps it just liked the card’s glittering hologram sticker.
6 The M&M’S Home Invader
On occasion, bears take a trip to the supermarket. In this case, the local bear Walmart was a couple’s home in California. Located in South Lake Tahoe, they had been raided at least six times by the large mammals. One bear liked sweet stuff. During his first burglary, the animal gained entry through the front door and swiped chocolate powder, maple syrup, and cinnamon raisin bread.
One day in 2018, the homeowners left for an hour but not before they secured their property against a break-in. The only exception was a small kitchen window. They left it open thinking that no bear could possibly squeeze through—especially not Sweet Tooth, which stood 213 centimeters (7’0″) tall. You know, big bear.
Sweet Tooth arrived and zeroed in on the open window. He expertly removed the mesh cover before worming halfway through the frame to search for snacks. The burglar’s efforts were rewarded. On the sink counter was a packet of M&M’S, which he promptly tore open and hoovered up. The mesh murder and snacking were caught on a security camera and shown on YouTube and the local news.
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5 A Gull Overwhelmed By Curry
In 2016, a gull was desperately hungry. As veterinarians later testified at his hearing (all right, at the sink where they scrubbed him clean), this was a young and starving bird. Unsurprisingly then, when the gull spotted meat at a UK factory, he dive-bombed it.
Perhaps the bird swooped in a little too enthusiastically. Or perhaps he had never stolen from a vat of chicken tikka masala before—because that is exactly what the gull fell into.
By the time the bird arrived at the wildlife clinic, the masala had turned his feathers a bright orange. The plumage almost hurt the vets’ eyes. But what surprised them even more was how delicious the curry thief smelled. A good dose of detergent removed the orange, but even then, the mouthwatering aroma lingered.
Despite almost drowning in curry, looking like a road cone, and being washed like a plate, the gull turned out fine. He was spoiled with fish and cat food for weeks and then released back into the wild.
4 The 47-Second Gem Grab
A brazen diamond heist happened in 2018, but the police never showed up. To be fair, they were not informed of the event and SWAT probably would have stepped on the crook without realizing it. The individual boldly stealing a diamond was an ant.
But YouTubers avidly followed the drama after someone posted the video online. The clip shows how the ant chose a gem almost as big as itself and tottered away with it.
Not much is known about where this happened. But since there were other diamonds, it was probably on a workbench of some kind. For roughly 47 seconds, the camera followed the ant in a slow-speed chase across the table. Then the video suddenly ended.
The ant’s fate is unknown, but the insect became a viral sensation for pulling off (at least for a while) the world’s smallest diamond heist.
3 Cat Burglars Are Real
Denis the cat was six months old when his owner decided that he was ready to leave the house. But Bedfordshire was not quite ready for Denis. The klepto kitten stole things throughout the neighborhood and presented them to his family as gifts.
By 2012, the cat was a well-known local thief. His owner kept everything snatched by Denis in boxes and consulted the evidence room whenever neighbors inquired about missing items.
The cat’s crime spree amassed bags, shoes, shirts, dolls, newspapers, paintbrushes, and underwear. Lots of underwear. According to his family, the feline felon had a special hankering for boxers.
Nobody hated the prolific cat burglar. Quite the opposite. Denis’s YouTube channel, which documented his crimes, received over 400,000 views. He also had a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and a T-shirt line. The money from all sales was donated to a cat shelter.
2 An Octopus Took Photos With A Stolen Camera
A man wrestles a giant octopus. Man has to let go of his camera or drown. Octopus wins and takes photos of its own tentacles. This is not a bad horror movie with comedic moments. The scene played itself out in 2013 when an underwater photographer decided to snap pictures of a giant Pacific octopus in the Pacific Northwest.
The encounter was cute enough when it began. The female unfurled a few tentacles from her cave-like den and posed for two photos. She struck just as the diver was about to take a third.
The large octopus grabbed his camera and refused to let go. Give the guy credit—he put up a good fight. But when the octopus tore at his mask and protective clothing, he had to back off or risk the dangers of the freezing seawater.
On a subsequent dive and a second tussle, the diver and a friend managed to get the camera away from the creature. Once back on dry land, they discovered that the octopus had taken several blurry photos of herself.
1 The Monkey Extortion Hustle
Need a new camera? Sunglasses? Go to Bali and wait behind a monkey-filled tree. The little thugs will deliver the goods—for the right snack.
For years now, long-tailed macaques at the Uluwatu Temple have been running a successful racket. They hit tourists and flee with anything that they can grab, including jewelry, flip-flops, and spectacles.
Less tolerant places might have gotten rid of the animals, but instead, the temple staff have become expert negotiators. They buy back the stolen goods with food, but the process is delicate. If the monkey hates the menu, then no deal.
When researchers counted the ways in 2010, four macaque gangs committed 201 robberies in just four months. The situation is remarkable in several ways (besides the prolific extortion).
For one, the monkeys taught themselves to barter with humans. Indeed, these are the only wild animals in the world running a rob-and-swap business. The monkeys also taught their kids to keep this line of crime in the family.
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