People do weird, unpredictable stuff -- that's a simple fact. But a few engage in strange behavior that's also criminal. They might do it for money or because they're drunk. Sometimes, they do it just because they don't have anything better to do. Regardless of the reason, their strange, illicit antics make for interesting reading.
We've got a list of the 10 weirdest crimes ever committed. Some are funny, some are kind of scary, but all of them are true.
On the next page, learn how one criminal gets store clerks to give him cash willingly.
10: Hypnotic Holdup
Robberies are a common occurrence no matter where you live, but the bandit responsible for a string of holdups in Italy is anything but a common criminal. He doesn't use a gun or any other weapon to coerce cashiers -- yet they all give him money willingly. This particular stickup man (who's a dead ringer for Saddam Hussein) uses hypnotic powers to get the goods. He simply waits his turn in line; whispers to cashiers, "look into my eyes;" and walks out with a stash of cash.
The victims of his magical malfeasance don't remember giving him the money, and he's so subtle that no one realizes what's happened until it's too late. Italian police began searching for this elusive illusionist in 2008, but so far they've got nothing to show for their efforts but an empty bag of tricks.
9: A Surprise Celebrity Sleepover
You might see him and think of "Iron Man," "Sherlock Holmes" or perhaps even Larry Paul from "Ally McBeal," but in July 1996, the only thing one California family thought about when they found Robert Downey Jr. passed out in their 11-year-old daughter's bed was calling the police.
Downey, heavily intoxicated, entered the home through the front door, which the family left open so they could enjoy the ocean breeze. At bedtime, the child and her mother found the actor passed out in the girl's room. They weren't exactly starstruck and quickly dialed 911.
Downey was arrested for trespassing and being under the influence of a controlled substance. He was given three years probation for this and other drug-related charges, but he eventually served time in prison for breaking his probation.
8: Prison Break-in
Many people have tried breaking out of the big house, but in January 2010, 28-year-old James Merrill DeVore thought it would be a great idea to break in.
Distraught over his mother's death, DeVore, drunk and high on marijuana, headed down to the local jail for help dealing with his woes. He arrived around 4:00 a.m., and when no one let him in through the front entrance, he tried the back door. DeVore was spotted scaling a tall fence that surrounds the prisoner unloading area. Several officers went out to meet him, and he was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Despite his efforts, DeVore still hasn't seen the inside of a jail. He was taken to a local sobriety center and placed in a mental health program, though he has been summoned for a future court appearance.
7: Robbing the Manger
You know those baby Jesus statues that are the centerpiece of manger scenes adorning people's homes and churchyards around Christmastime? Believe it or not, those plastic infants are a prime target for thieves -- and we're not talking about just the lifelike, thousand-dollar likenesses found at upscale churches (though those do go missing). Any infant Jesus, no matter its cost, weight or features, is at risk during the holidays. The statues are commonly taken as a prank, but their owners aren't laughing. In fact, there's actually been an increase in manger scene thefts in recent years. Many churches have started hiding GPS devices inside the statues so they can be reclaimed. In 2008, a security company even began offering free GPS systems and hidden security cameras to help catch would-be manger thieves.
6: Criminal Climber
Alain Robert, aka the French Spiderman, is a criminal -- and he's proud of it. An urban free-climber, Robert scales skyscrapers and other tall buildings without a rope, harness or any other safety implement. He's often arrested after his ascents because he usually lacks authorization for his climbs, though sometimes he's hired to scale buildings for (literal) publicity stunts.
Robert has climbed everything from the New York Times Building to the then-tallest skyscraper in the world: Taiwan's Taipei 101. He's also surmounted the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) and many other famous buildings and landmarks. Robert currently has plans to scale the Burj Khalifa (the current titleholder for world's tallest building) in early 2011.
5: Grand Theft Tank
In May 1995, a 34-year-old unemployed plumber named Shawn Nelson stole a tank from the San Diego National Guard Armory and went on a destructive rampage. The tank had no ammo and no bystanders were hurt, but Nelson did some serious damage. He used the 57-ton (51.7-metric ton) vehicle to flatten 40 cars, upturn multiple telephone poles, demolish numerous fire hydrants and destroy several electricity pylons, knocking out power to more than 5,000 people.
His rampage ended when he maneuvered the tank onto a freeway and got hung up on a divider. Four police officers mounted the vehicle and used bolt cutters to pry open the hatch. Even then, Nelson worked to elude them and continue his violent spree, so the officers opened fire. He died shortly thereafter.
4: Airbag Theft
Airbag theft might sound strange, but it's actually pretty practical (from a thief's perspective, anyway). In fact, thieves in the United States steal around 50,000 airbags a year, for a total net loss of about $50 million.
Here's why they're so hot: Airbags are extremely expensive (more than $1,000 each), but they can be removed from a car in less than two minutes. They're easily obtainable and go for a tidy sum on the black market. Some shady repair shops have even started stealing customers' airbags while their cars are in for repairs.
There's no way to tell if your airbag has been pilfered unless you get your vehicle inspected by a qualified technician, which you should do if your car has been recently broken into or if you've visited any shifty mechanics.
3: Laxative Cake Crimes
You might think that constipation relief and criminal activity don't have much in common, but there have been a number of laxative-related crimes committed recently. These crimes typically involve purgatives laced in baked goods -- usually cakes -- and are almost always carried out by high school students as "harmless" senior pranks.
It might seem funny, but no one is laughing. Several teachers have had to go to the hospital after eating the poisoned treats. The students are usually arrested for their intestinal infractions, and some have even been expelled from school. That's no joke when you're only a few months -- or even days -- away from graduation. Each of these kids also faces potential jail time and a mark on their permanent records.
2: A Collection of Cadavers
People have done some pretty sick stuff to corpses. Disfigurement, dismemberment, necrophilia -- it's all very unsettling. But in February 2002, in Noble, Ga., Tri-State Crematorium operator Ray Brent Marsh was discovered doing something to cadavers that was just, well, weird.
Instead of cremating corpses, Marsh left them out to rot. Cadavers were found unceremoniously stuffed into vaults, piled on top of one another in a barn and strewn around nearby wooded areas in varying states of decomposition. Police even located several coffins that had been exhumed for no discernible purpose other than to add more bodies to the macabre site. To cover his tracks, Marsh supplied urns filled with cement dust instead of ashes to grieving loved ones.
Eventually the remains of 334 people were found, and Marsh pled guilty to all 787 counts that were brought against him. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and 75 years probation.
1: Monkey Business
In July 2009, in Richardson, Texas, one criminal duo intent on burglarizing a gardening store got up to some serious monkey business. The pair had probably rehearsed the job together numerous times, despite the fact that only one of them would actually have to enter the building. But the 2-foot (24-inch) intruder likely needed the practice -- after all, monkeys aren't known for their plant-stealing skills.
Security footage shows the furry little burglar scampering over and around various plants, making his way to the target foliage. More than 40 plants were taken from the business (valued around $300), and it's thought that the pilfering primate nabbed the plants and passed them over a gate to his waiting human accomplice. It wasn't a perfect score, however, as there were several shattered pieces of concrete in the parking lot, most likely the result of clumsy monkey fingers.