This Helpful Burglar Gave Cops the One Clue They Needed to Solve the Crime

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Sept. 26 2013 11:30 AM

This Helpful Burglar Left His Rap Sheet at the Scene of the Crime and Led Cops Right to His Door

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Name: Andre Antonio Henry

Crime: Second-degree burglary.

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Fatal mistake: Being way, way too careless with incriminating information.

The circumstances: When the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research in the Washington, D.C., area was burglarized earlier this year, it didn’t take police long to identify a suspect. That’s because the suspect, Andre Antonio Henry, inexplicably left his rap sheet at the scene of the crime. A rap sheet, or criminal record, is essentially a list of one’s arrests and criminal history; according to the ABA Journal, Henry’s rap sheet featured two pages' worth of theft charges, all of which presumably were resolved in a similarly comical fashion. Needless to say, your rap sheet sits near the top of the list of “things you should not leave at a crime scene,” right up there with “your fingerprints,” “a headshot,” and “a signed and notarized confession.”

History does not record the exact circumstances under which Henry left this data behind. Maybe the rap sheet fell out of his pocket. Maybe he thought he was playing some sort of taunting, Riddler-style game with the cops. Regardless, with this helpful clue guiding their investigation, police were easily able to obtain a warrant, locate Henry, find stolen goods in Henry’s house, and tie him to other area burglaries. He was convicted earlier this month on three counts of second-degree burglary and sentenced to 18 years in prison. In court, he apologized for his crimes, saying that it was “sad that it took all this time for me to really open my eyes and see how important my freedom is.” Though he didn’t mention it, he was probably also sad that he decided to burglarize the Meteorological Services Office, rather than some other, more lucrative target. According to the Washington Post, the burglary yielded only a digital picture frame, $6 in coins, and, most likely, a newfound respect for the hard-working men and women who provide this nation with the meteorological services it so desperately needs.

How he could have been a lot smarter: He could have left someone else’s rap sheet at the scene of the crime.

How he could have been a little smarter: Left a rap CD at the scene of the crime, along with a message reading “Listen to this if you like sick beats.” That way the cops would be too busy grooving to worry about arresting anyone.

How he could have been a little dumber: “Oh, come on, officers, this is obviously a false flag operation. Don’t you listen to Alex Jones? The government clearly burglarized its own office. False flag!”

How he could have been a lot dumber: “Riddle me this, detectives: Which local commercial burglar is named Andre Henry, lives in Brandywine, Md., and can be found at home most days between 10 and 2? If you need a clue, here’s my phone number.”

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): Look, we’ve all misplaced important documents at one point or another. Henry’s real mistake here was bringing the rap sheet with him in the first place. As far as I can tell, there are only three possible reasons why any criminal would bring his rap sheet with him while committing a crime.

1. You need some reading material for the ride home.

2. You have anterograde amnesia, like in Memento, and your rap sheet is the only thing that helps you remember who you are and which crimes you have committed.

3. You are dumb.

Which was Andre Henry’s reason? I have a guess. 9 out of 10 for him.

Previous Dumb Criminals

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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