The Best and Worst Wardrobe Choices for When You’re Running From the Cops

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
July 18 2013 11:00 AM

The Best and Worst Wardrobe Choices for When You’re Running From the Cops

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Crime is Slate’s crime blog. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @slatecrime.


Alleged crimes: Armed robbery, carjacking

Fatal mistake: Neglecting to dress for success

The circumstances: In 2004 Janet Jackson’s nipple slip during the Super Bowl halftime show brought the phrase “wardrobe malfunction” into popular vernacular. Earlier this month a baggy-pants-wearing alleged carjacker in the Atlanta area suffered a less breast-baring but no less humiliating wardrobe malfunction of his own. On July 5 a police officer in Georgia’s Clayton County noticed a car peeling recklessly out of a parking lot. He gave chase, and the driver, 20-year-old Elijah Freeman, must have become nervous, because he ended up crashing the car—right in front of police headquarters.

At that point a reasonable criminal might have said, “Well, it just isn’t my day,” and raised his hands in disappointment and surrender. Freeman, being a dumb criminal, decided that while he wasn’t able to outrace the cops, he could probably outrun them. So Freeman, police say, abandoned the wrecked car and fled on foot. But he was slowed by his fashionably baggy pants. “He nearly ran himself out of his pants,” a police officer told the media after Freeman had been arrested, and while the officer didn’t elaborate, everybody knows that sagging and running don’t go well together. Freeman was charged with carjacking and armed robbery. No word on what happened to his pants.

How he could have been a lot smarter: The Boy Scout motto also applies to carjackers and other thieves. If you are going to commit a crime, be prepared. Do not wear clothes that will impede your ability to flee. Basically, if you’re a carjacker and you’re not clad head to toe in spandex, you’re not doing your job.

How he could have been a little smarter: Crashing a hijacked car in front of a police station is bad. If you must crash a stolen car, do so near a building, like a nursing home, that’s filled with people who are unlikely to chase and arrest you.

How he could have been a little dumber: Baggy pants aren’t the absolute worst thing to wear if you’re running from the cops. This dude would’ve been much worse off if he’d have been wearing footie pajamas, or a kimono—or both in tandem. 

How he could have been a lot dumber: Well, at least he ran away from the police station.

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): This story does a good job demonstrating what separates a smart criminal from a dumb criminal. A smart criminal puts himself in a position to succeed, through preparation, training, and practice. A dumb criminal wears cumbersome pants that will trip him up and subject him to ridicule and humiliation. You should have known better, Elijah Freeman. 5 out of 10 for you.

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


The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?


“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 6:30 PM The Tragedies That Have Shaped Canada's Gun Politics
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.