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10 of the Most Bizarre Crimes From Around the World

by Himanshu Sharma
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Whether we’d like to admit it or not, most of us love messed-up crime stories, which is why true crime is an entertainment genre in its own right. It doesn’t mean that we’re all messed up in the head; we love these stories because they make us realize how different we are from those who go out and do those horrible things. There’s a psychological angle, too. It’s fascinating to know how, say, a serial killer’s mind works.

However, the following weird crime stories from around the world don’t have any of those things. A lot of them actually sound like pranks. None of them would ever be considered for their own Netflix series—as it’s difficult to explain why anyone would even do some of these things, let alone sit and explore the psychological motives behind them—though they’d definitely be noted for how inexplicable and bizarre they are.

10 Sand Theft

The beach is loved by many, and why not? It’s a social place with many people chilling or having a good time (unless you visit some frozen beach in Norway or something), the view is gorgeous, and looking at the seemingly endless ocean helps you calm down, no matter how hard your day has been. Not everyone shares that opinion, though, especially not the people who have taken to stealing sand from beaches across the world, a problem that has been growing in recent times.

Sand theft is an increasingly serious problem for authorities around the world, as it’s apparently highly in demand due to its use in construction. Sardinia has instituted hefty fines for stealing sand, but they’re still catching people trying to take some home for some reason. It’s not like one bottle of sand can be used to construct anything.

In many developing countries, sand is gradually coming up as a highly coveted commodity due to its use in construction and its growing scarcity, which may make stealing some off a beach sound a bit less weird. Countries like India even have full-fledged “sand mafias” you probably wouldn’t want to run into.[1]

9 Naked Man Trashes House, Gets Stuck in a Vent

Canada generally isn’t known for its gruesome crimes, although it has quite a few bizarre cases with questionable motivations. It all started in December 2015, when some people in British Columbia started hearing noises from the house next door. They reported it and notified the family the house belonged to, though it only got weirder from there.

Authorities found a man stuck inside a vent. He was wrapped in insulation, possibly to keep himself warm, though that wouldn’t have been a necessity if he wasn’t also buck naked. On further inspection, the whole house was found to be trashed, and the man was assumed to have been living above the ceiling, based on the large hole in it from which he clearly fell.

Police weren’t exactly clear on why he ransacked the house or what he was doing stuck in the vents when they found him—or what he was doing in general. They were, however, clear on when he got naked: at some point in the middle of his destruction spree, as they found his underwear in the toilet. That showed that he didn’t come naked for the job, which would have been weird, or at least weirder than it already was, though it really doesn’t explain what the job was and why he was there at all.[2]

8 Cheese Black Market

Photo credit: Reuters

We admit that cheese is good, and no matter how much of it we eat, we never get tired of it. It’s a widely acknowledged opinion (outside of those who are intolerant to milk products) that the freedom to go to the store and get more cheese whenever we want is one of modern society’s greatest gifts. Ever imagine how bad it would be if it weren’t readily available?

You don’t have to, as that’s exactly the situation in Russia due to all the sanctions and general geopolitical goodwill it has managed to lose over the last decade or so. It’s probably the only country in the world with a thriving cheese black market due to its severe shortage and high prices, and they regularly arrest local criminal cheese rings. You’d think that a cheese black market would be some sort of a joke, but they’re really serious about it, and the cheese shortage has attracted quite a bit of global attention in recent years.[3]

7 Stealing Komodo Dragons

In case you’ve never seen it in a viral animal video on the Internet, the Komodo dragon is the largest lizard species on the planet. It’s native to just a handful of Indonesian islands, though, and thank God for that. It looks like the living embodiment of death, and a bunch of them is certainly not something you’d want to run across on a casual hike. You probably wouldn’t willingly go near one if you had a choice, and even then, you’d keep your distance because just look at those things. And yet, some people aren’t just willingly going near them—they’re also stealing them.

Komodo dragon theft has turned into a big enough problem for authorities to completely ban tourists from Komodo island starting in January 2020.[4] An end date for the ban has not been set. Even so, why would someone steal a Komodo dragon? Not only are they dangerous, but they don’t have pretty fur to be sold or anything else of use other than the look of pure, cold death in their eyes. Some people think that they must be useful in traditional Eastern medicine, which may be why each one of them goes for $35,000 and above. We just hope that’s the case and that no one’s actually keeping them as pets.

6 Brotherly Car Thefts

A man in Kansas was arrested in November 2019 for driving a stolen SUV to bail out his brother, who had been jailed only hours earlier for stealing a separate SUV. According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the first sibling caught was 36-year-old Eric Dean McCracken. He was arrested for driving a Chevy Trailblazer with a suspended license Police then revealed they learned the SUV had been reported stolen.

Hours later, his younger brother, 32-year-old Keith Ray McCracken, was arrested after leading deputies on a short chase in a stolen 2015 Chevy Silverado that authorities were tracking through its GPS. “It is believed that the younger McCracken was en route to the Jackson County Jail to post bail on his older brother in a stolen vehicle,” officials said. The brothers were reunited in jail.[5]

5 Serial Cat Shaver

Many serious crime stories start with a pet like a cat, though this is definitely not one of them, even though cats are definitely involved. In a town in England, it was reported in January 2016 that someone was accosting cats and shaving fur off them, even though we can’t think of any conceivable reason as to why anyone would do that. Two cats were found with big patches of missing fur, as though someone had a trimmer, wanted to do something with it, but wasn’t very good at it. The cats were understandably left shaken by the whole ordeal.[6]

The cats weren’t hurt in any other way, suggesting that the shaving may have been the ultimate goal. The questionable motives of the assailant(s) aside, it wasn’t the first time someone had shaved a neighborhood cat. The locals remember another case around a year before this one when a different cat was found to have been mysteriously shaved in a similar manner. Whoever the serial cat shaver might be, we sure hope they get caught soon so that we can at least understand their motives a bit better.

4 Wine Terrorism

In case you aren’t in the loop, the French are still continuously hitting the streets every weekend to protest against some of Macron’s policies. That’s not something new, as the French are known for their willingness to protest. This isn’t about the yellow vests, though, but a lesser-known protest group in the south of the country with weirder motives.

CRAV, a group of balaclava-clad militants in the region of Languedoc, has been making the news for an entirely new type of resistance against imported wines for a while now. Termed “wine terrorism” by the local media, their methods include vandalizing the offices of various wine importers to take a stand against imported wine, especially from Spain.[7] They’ve caused many spills around the port area that the authorities have had to clean up (example from 2016 pictured above), though no cases of violence against any actual people have been reported yet. (Arson and the use of explosives to destroy buildings and property have occurred.) It’s unknown if they’re affiliated with any local winemakers, which would at least explain why they care so much, though they’ve definitely been becoming more violent in recent years.

3 Stealing Bridges

What do you think about when you see a bridge? While many would reply with, “Absolutely nothing; it’s just a bridge,” the more curious may wonder how it must have been built or how people used to go from one side to the other before it. At no point would any one of us go, “That’s beautiful; how do I steal it?” as stealing a bridge sounds like something that’s not humanly possible. Despite that, bridges around the world have been reported stolen overnight, with very little explanation of how it was accomplished.

Bridge theft has occurred in the Czech Republic, England, and Turkey, to name a few countries. The aforementioned case in the Czech Republic, which happened in 2012, involved the dismantling of a 10-ton bridge that had over 198 meters (650 ft) of track.[8] We wouldn’t even be sure where to start if someone was paying us to do it, as we’re not talking some small object you can just steal, load into your truck, and drive off with. How do you dismantle it? How do you transport it, and most importantly, how do you do it without anyone noticing? (In the Czech case, the thieves posed as people hired to demolish the bridge.)

2 Ice Theft

“Ice theft” doesn’t mean anything to most of us; who would bother stealing something as natural and abundantly available as ice, anyway? Sure, the phrase could be used in the context of a house party with limited ice, but even then, calling it theft is sort of stretching it. Yes, we know that because of global warming, the Earth’s ice caps are also gradually shrinking, but even then, things haven’t yet devolved to the point where we’d have to outright smuggle ice out of glaciers to have access to it.

So when the cops caught a man doing exactly that in Chile in 2012, it came as a surprise.[9] He was caught with 5 metric tons of ice in the back of his truck in the town of Cochrane. Such a theft absolutely doesn’t help anything, as the region already has some of the fastest-melting glaciers in all of Chile. The officials suspected that the ice was meant for upscale restaurants and bars located in Chile’s capital, Santiago, and that there may have even been a full-fledged gang behind the whole operation.

1 Professional Number Plate Blockers

Photo credit: France 24

Due to being one of the fastest-growing cities in Asia, Tehran has introduced many road laws in recent years to keep things manageable. Much like other big cities of the world, Tehran also has designated traffic zones with their own rules that you must follow (and fees you must pay) if you want access to them, especially in the central, more crowded areas of the city. Unlike any other city in the world, though, Iranians have found an ingenious way to circumvent those rules and do whatever they want anyway: dedicated number plate blockers.

To get around the strict traffic zone laws, drivers in Tehran have taken to hiring pedestrians to walk behind their cars and block the number plate from the view of CCTV cameras. While some of the plate blockers are just people on the street trying to earn a quick buck, there are others who do this for a living as well, either on foot or on a two-wheeler.[10]

You can check out Himanshu’s stuff at Cracked and Screen Rant, get in touch with him for writing gigs, or just say hello to him on Twitter.

fact checked by Jamie Frater
Himanshu Sharma

Himanshu has written for sites like Cracked, Screen Rant, The Gamer and Forbes. He could be found shouting obscenities at strangers on Twitter, or trying his hand at amateur art on Instagram.

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