Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Alleged Burglar Who Fell Asleep on a Bear Skin Mid-Burglary

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
May 17 2013 10:55 AM

Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Alleged Burglar Who Fell Asleep on a Bear Skin Mid-Burglary

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 4.47.46 PM
The bear skin in question.

Screen capture, WTMJ-4 TV

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Name: Christopher White

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Crime: Burglary.

Fatal mistake: Failing to caffeinate before a break-in.

The circumstances: At the end of April, a man named Christopher White allegedly broke into a local real estate office in Burlington, Wis. (Town motto: “The town with tall tales.” Seriously.) Real estate offices are not usually great burglary targets, unless you are looking to steal photographs of other people’s houses. Nevertheless, White did the best he could, grabbing three computers and hauling them outside before heading back in to see if there was anything he had missed. Sure enough, a large bear skin was mounted on a basement wall. (A bear skin in a real estate office? If you’d ever been to Racine County, you’d understand.) White took the skin off the wall, presumably for the purposes of stealing it. Then he promptly fell asleep on top of it. Sounds dumb, but put yourself in his position: It’s late, you’re tired, and bear skins are hard to carry. A quick power nap might be just what you’d need to finish a burglary off in style.

If that was White’s plan, well, it was a bad one. When the office staff arrived the next morning, they noticed the break-in and called police, who arrived to find White sound asleep on top of the bear skin. Screams were uttered, the police were called, and White was roused from his slumber and carted off to jail. Luckily, once the initial surprise wore off, the real estate employees seemed to find the incident pretty funny. “You can’t fix stupid. You can just arrest it,” one of the real estate agents told WTMJ-TV. Words to live by.

A brief note: The WTMJ video about White’s sleepy misadventure repeatedly asserted that this story “was one for the dumb criminal file.” I love the enthusiasm. In fact, I love it so much that I’m adding a brand-new segment to this feature, at least for this week: “local newscast promo line,” which is what I imagine a hypothetical local newscast might use to hype the story. Say it in your best anchorman voice to get the full effect.

Local newscast promo line: “The only thing this would-be burglar stole was a few Zs!”

How he could have been a lot smarter: He should have brought an alarm clock.

How he could have been a little smarter: If you are interrupted during a burglary, and you happen to be wrapped in a bear skin, think quickly and pretend you are a bear. Then, as the police flee in terror, you can make your escape. It’s the perfect crime!

How he could have been a little dumber: I guess he could have taken the bear skin outside and fallen asleep on top of the computers. That would’ve been dumb and uncomfortable.

How he could have been a lot dumber: “Arrest me? Haven’t you ever heard of a little thing called squatter’s rights?”

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): Falling asleep during a burglary is one of the dumbest things that a burglar can do. And, as you might imagine, alcohol played a part in White’s bad decisions; court documents indicate that he had gone out drinking before the burglary, and that “he was just cold and tired.” Now I sort of feel bad for this guy. But not bad enough to stop me from giving him a 9.5 out of 10, which I believe is the highest score I’ve given so far. Congratulations?

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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