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Priceless Jewels, Sharks, And Inflatable Colons: The Best And Weirdest Heists Of 2018


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We begin, as always, with our disclaimers.

Number One: I love heists. I love them so much. I love movies about heists and news stories about heists and even just sitting around and thinking about heists. I love big fancy jewel heists and weird food heists and heists of things I had never considered heistable. This is what I am about, on a personal level.

Number Two: My favorite heist ever was the time a guy stole a bucket of gold out of a truck in New York, in broad daylight, and remained on the loose for months, leaving police so frustrated that they released the only picture they had of him, which was him at Madam Tussaud’s sitting on a wax sculpture of the bike from E.T., complete with a tiny wax E.T. in a tiny wax basket. None of these heists are as good as that heist. Because nothing at all is better than that heist.

Number Three: Neither I nor the fine people at Uproxx condone crime, even when it is hilarious. You should not do crimes. But if someone else does a crime, especially if it involves stealing, say, $98,000 worth of ramen noodles (a real thing that happened), well then I see nothing wrong with having some fun with it. That’s all we’re doing here.

Number Four: Pierce Brosnan is at the top of this post because Pierce Brosnan is the patron saint of heists.

And now, without further ado, the best and weirdest heists of 2018.

Million-dollar vodka bottle heist!

From the BBC:

Danish police are investigating the theft of a bottle of vodka claimed to be the world’s most expensive at $1.3m (£960,000).

The bottle, made from gold and silver and with a diamond encrusted cap, was on loan to a Copenhagen bar which had a collection of vodkas on display.

I must know more about this $1.3 million bottle of vodka. I must know everything about it. At once.

Russian luxury car maker Russo-Baltique is said to have created the vodka to commemorate the centenary of the company’s factory.

The front of the bottle is decorated with leather and has a replica of the radiator guard used for Russo-Baltique cars.

The cap is shaped like a Russian imperial eagle and is encrusted with diamonds.

Mr. Ingberg said the bottle had featured in an episode of House of Cards as a gift from the Russian president to his US counterpart.

Did you guys ever do that thing in college where you buy an expensive bottle of liquor early in the year and then keep refilling it with cheap stuff so people are like “Wow, he always has Grey Goose at his parties”? I kind of hope that’s what this thief did. Like he kept having people over to show off his stolen million-dollar vodka bottle and by the third or fourth time he was funneling Banker’s Club into it and trying to pass it off. I bet there was still one guy like “You can really taste the smoothness.”

Anyway, shoutout to the lifelong employees of Russo-Baltique whose raises got denied so the company could commission a million-dollar booze bottle with a diamond-encrusted eagle on it.

Shark heist!

From The New York Times:

Miss Helen, a 16-inch-long horn shark in the San Antonio Aquarium in Texas, lives in a tank where visitors are encouraged to touch the animals. Three people took the encouragement too far this past weekend, lifting the shark out of the tank and plopping her into a baby stroller, the police said.

A few notes:

  • These doofuses really flung a shark into a baby stroller and walked out of an aquarium
  • Their big endgame was selling the shark on Facebook
  • Please do imagine the moment when the three of them came up with this plan
  • Also, please imagine some sweet old lady stopping them in the parking lot like “Oh, isn’t that precious. Baby’s first trip to the aquarium. Lemme see that little smiling ange-… OH SWEET MARY.”

I would watch an entire 10-episode limited series about this.

Giant inflatable bird heist!

From NZHerald:

Iwi is a cartoon Kiwi with a huge yellow beak, and wearing a silver fern jersey.

He’s at least 20 metres high.

Iwi disappeared without a trace during shipping to Taiwan in June – feared stolen.

The best part of someone stealing a 60-foot inflatable kiwi is that it is somehow not the strangest heist involving a giant inflatable object. Not even close, to be honest. Because…

Giant inflatable colon heist!

From the AP:

Someone has snatched a giant, inflatable colon used to teach about the dangers of colon cancer.

It is 10 feet-long, weighs 150 pound and is valued at $4,000.

It is owned by the Cancer Coalition, which hosts walking and running events under a campaign called “Get Your Rear In Gear.”

Sometimes heists make sense. You’ll read a headline like “500 Bottles of Wine Stolen From Exclusive Cellar” and you’ll understand the motive right away. This one… I really want to know what the plan was here. What are you gonna do with a giant inflatable colon? I can’t imagine there’s a huge black market for inflatable representations of the digestive system. I like to picture the guy getting frustrated and trying to sell it out of the back of a van.

“Hey. Psst. You guys looking for a giant inflatable colon?”

“What? No.”

“Come on. Yours for only $3,000. You never know when you might need it”

“Hmm. I’ll give you $25.”

“Okay, sold.”

Lettuce heist!

From CBC:

The trailer was parked at 50 Covington St. in east Hamilton when someone stole it, police say. It happened sometime between 8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.

There were a lot of produce heists this year. Someone stole 9,000 pounds of oranges. Someone else stole an entire vineyard full of wine grapes. So why, with options like those, have I selected the theft of a trailer filled with lettuce to represent the group? Simple.

Police played up the puns on Tuesday, urging people to “romaine calm” and “lettuce know if you have any tips.”

“Your information could be the tip of the iceberg,” the service said on its Facebook page.

Somewhere in that town, in a high school or junior high, a student saw this story on his or her phone and muttered “Dad, noooooooo.”

Attempted Magna Carta heist!

From the BBC:

A hammer-wielding man has been arrested after an attempted smash and grab of a Magna Carta from its display at Salisbury Cathedral.

Alarms went off when the would-be thief tried to break through the glass box which protects the charter on Thursday.

The suspect was held on suspicion of attempted theft of the document – claimed to be the best preserved of four original Magna Cartas.

YOU: [normal, well-adjusted] A man tried to steal the Magna Carta with a hammer? Wow. That’s pretty wild.

ME: [insane, has seen the National Treasure movies something like 20 times each on various basic cable channels] I bet there’s a treasure map on the back of the Magna Carta.

Insect heist!

From The New York Times:

Security cameras around the pavilion recorded several people creeping out of the museum last week with plastic containers holding giant African mantises, bumblebee millipedes, warty glowspot roaches, tarantulas, dwarf and tiger hissers, and leopard geckos.

John Cambridge, the chief executive of the insectarium, said he believed that “someone recognized an opportunity to remove some creatures” and did it.

I’m not doubting the seriousness of protecting various species, even creepy crawly ones (I guess), but that list of insects sounds made-up. At least partially. It reads like the reporter asked what went missing and the poor guy couldn’t find the paper on his desk. “Uh… yeah. Hold on. Some tarantulas, a… uh, bumblebee… millipede, the warty… glowspot… roaches, um, a tiger… hisser?”

I say this mostly because I do not want to believe “a tiger hisser” is a real bug.

Atlanta waffle mix heist!

From AJC:

[A] Peachtree City man was arrested earlier this month after police said he committed a sweet, doughy crime: stealing 150 pounds of waffle mix, and then selling it off to others.

[He] had a “stream of buyers that would contact him for the waffle mix and he would provide it when contacted,” Peachtree City police spokesperson Lt. Odilia Bergh told AJC.com on Thursday. “He is the seller of waffle mix.”

Two notes:

  • A few years ago, a crew of Canadian thieves stole millions of dollars worth of maple syrup. This year, Netflix made a documentary about it. I choose to believe the thief here saw that and was like “Hell yeah.”
  • “He is the seller of waffle mix” is a really fun thing to say in your most serious Cop At A Press Conference Voice.

I am always here for breakfast heists.

Succulent heist!

From The Guardian:

California department of fish and wildlife wardens have made five busts this year, involving more than 3,500 stolen plants, evidence that the succulent, a symbol of American hipster style, has gone global to grievous effect.

“Right now these plants are a boom in Korea, China and Japan. It’s huge among domestic housewives. It’s a status thing,” said the department warden Pat Freeling, who spearheaded the investigation. “It’s become an exotic lotus flower succulent. Someone likened it to the next Pokémon.”

Best part of this is how The Guardian worked in a pretty sick burn on American hipsters in their article about people stealing houseplants. Can’t let those opportunities slide by.


Chocolate heists!

From DW:

German police are searching for two, or more, chocolate thieves after a pair of truck trailers packed with 44 tons (48.5 US tons) of chocolate were stolen.

Police put the value of the heist, which occurred Friday night at an industrial park in the southwest city of Freiburg, at €400,000 ($496,000).

There’s a lot to unpack here, but we can’t really do any of that without noting that this wasn’t the only multi-dozen-ton chocolate heist in Germany this year. There was a 20+ ton heist, too, that came complete with this helpful tip.

“Anyone offered large quantities (of chocolate) via unconventional channels should report it to the police immediately,” a statement said.

COP: Chief, some lady is on the phone saying she’s been offered a large quantity of chocolate via an unconventional channel.

CHIEF: [cigar drops out of his mouth in slow motion and bounces on the floor, little bits of red and gray ash spraying off in all directions] My god.

Multiple crown jewel heists!

From The New York Times:

In just a few minutes on Wednesday, the last day of an exhibition at the Ducal Palace in Venice, thieves made off with a gold brooch and a pair of earrings, easily disarming what had been described as a sophisticated alarm system and then disappearing into the sea of tourists who daily swarm St. Mark’s Square.

VENETIAN JEWEL HEIST!

From CNN:

Thieves stole priceless royal artifacts in a daring raid on a Swedish cathedral before escaping by speedboat, police said.

SWEDISH ARTIFACT HEIST WITH SPEEDBOAT GETAWAY!

My only complaint about any of this — and it is a very small one — is that the Venice thieves didn’t use a speedboat like the Swedish thieves to zip away from cops on gondolas. Cops in Venice ride gondolas, right? Don’t tell me if they don’t. Let me have this one.

Shellfish heists!

From WBRZ:

But Case’s plans to bring an old-fashioned crawfish boil to Upstate was foiled when a passerby made off with the trailer carrying the goods. Surveillance video from a nearby hotel shows a truck back up to the trailer, carrying about $9,000 worth of mudbugs and supplies, and take off.

“It was clear as day on the video,” Case said. “They back in like it was theirs, hooked up and they were gone.”

Cajun Crawfish heist is pretty good. You know what’s better, though?

REYKJAVIK LANGOUSTINE HEIST!

From Grapevine:

Hundreds of kilos of langoustine were boosted from Humarsalan last weekend, and the owner is warning the public not to buy black market langoustine.

I mean, look, I don’t tell anyone how to live their lives, but “don’t buy black market shellfish” feels like pretty evergreen advice. I kind of want to give a commencement speech at an Ivy League school and do 8-10 minutes on this, the way a normal speaker covers the more esoteric trials and tribulations of being an adult. It’s useful information, that’s all I’m saying.

Bull semen heist!

From the Bellingham Herald:

A 39-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a large Mercedes van with $10,000 worth of frozen bull semen inside.

Getting caught with a Mercedes van filled with $10,000 worth of frozen bull semen is pretty weird.

You know what would be weirder?

If the semen was fresh.

So I guess that’s something to strive for in 2019.

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