Dumb Criminals Don’t Get Much Dumber Than This Bumbling Burglar

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Nov. 21 2013 3:27 PM

Dumb Criminals Don’t Get Much Dumber Than This Bumbling Burglar

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Crime: Burglary


Fatal mistake: Unwisely placing himself at the scene of several crimes.

The circumstances: Court-mandated ankle monitors can really cramp a criminal’s style. They’re bulky and uncomfortable, they stretch out your socks, and they allow the courts to keep track of your location 24 hours a day. You’d have to be pretty dumb, desperate, or disoriented to break the law while wearing a GPS monitoring device that lets police place you at the scene of every crime you commit.

Meet Brandon Campbell. After being convicted on theft charges—for stealing a GPS device, hilariously—the 27-year-old Campbell was fitted with an ankle monitor that let the court track his whereabouts. But according to CBS 4 Denver, Campbell didn’t let the tracking bracelet stop him from burglarizing 15 houses in and around Arapahoe County, Colo., in the spring of 2012. While he allegedly made off with some nice hauls—one victim reported that $90,000 worth of goods had been stolen—his glory was short-lived. When he was arrested after one burglary, cops were able to use the GPS data from his ankle bracelet to tie him to the others. He was convicted of the crimes last week, and will soon be sentenced to prison, where the authorities will, again, know exactly where he is at all times.

How he could have been a lot smarter: Refrained from committing crimes while wearing an ankle monitor. Have some patience, dude! Wait until the bracelet comes off before you strike. Learning how to bide your time will help keep you out of jail, and will also serve you well in your future, non-geolocated criminal activities.

How he could have been a little smarter: If you have to do something illegal while wearing a GPS bracelet, stick to crimes that can be committed from the safety of your own home, like identify theft, or mail fraud.

How he could have been a little dumber: Blamed the whole thing on “restless leg syndrome.”

How he could have been a lot dumber: “It wasn’t me—it was my ankle.”

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): “I don’t think that there’s any doubt at all that this guy is the last guy picked on the prison Brain Bowl team,” District Attorney George Brauchler said of Campbell. Who would disagree? For the third time in the history of Dumb Criminal of the Week, I’m awarding the highest possible UDR score. (Read about the other two “winners” here and here.) 10 out of 10 for Brandon Campbell.

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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