Crime isn’t just for the young and reckless anymore. As aging populations continue to grow in parts of Europe and Asia, so the does the rate of crime among the elderly. For instance, from 2003 to 2013, the rate of crime committed by people over 65 more than doubled in Japan. To give you a clearer idea of what that looks like, retirees are responsible for more shoplifting incidents than teenagers.
So far, the United States appears to be avoiding this issue. Since the 1980s, the crime rate of people between the ages of 55 and 65 have decreased. Even though the number of geriatric inmates is on the rise, it’s mainly due to longer sentences, particularly those tied to drug-related offenses. Having said that, the U.S. still has its fair share of golden year delinquents (you’ll see in a second).
Most of the violations are petty, but some definitely cross over into first-class criminal status. Whether done out of greed, lust, or a craving for a popular dessert, grandmas and grandpas give all the young whipper-snappers a run for their money. And we’ve got 15 unbelievable crimes to prove it.
15. Shooting A Romantic Rival
A romantic rivalry can push just about anyone over the edge. Couple that with a big splash of noise pollution, and you have a recipe for a fierce throw-down.
Maria Cartagena, 81, had a few bones to pick with Iraida Palmieri, the wife of Latin jazz great Eddie Palmieri. Both sides had thrown a number of noise complaints against one another, and according to Cartagena’s husband, Iraida Palmieri (of Puerto Rican descent) threatened to send the Cartagenas back to the Dominican Republic in boxes if they didn’t move out.
To make matters worse, Maria Cartagena started to suspect that her rival was making advances towards her husband, which was the last straw. With a .38-caliber revolver, she fired a single shot at Iraida that grazed her head. While Palmieri recovered, she said confusion only continued to grow. Cartagena claimed that Palmieri had approached her with scissors and that she fired to defend herself.
14. Beating A Roommate To Death
Fighting with roommates is something that’s thought to disappear along with your twenties. In reality, no matter how old you get, you can always find something to butt heads over. Just ask Thomas Yarnavick, a former resident of the Ocean Promenade Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in NYC.
Yarnavick, who was 67 at the time, had been battling with his 71-year-old roomie, Jailall Singh, over whether or not they should close the curtain that stood as a divider between their sections. Eventually, the dispute erupted into a physical altercation where Yarnavick ended up beating Singh to death. The only thing more startling than this sudden violent outburst was the murder weapon: a metallic wheelchair footrest.
Despite being a frail man, Yarnavick was able to remove the footrest from another wheelchair before turning on Singh. Later, he threw the bloodied footrest into a laundry hamper, only to have police discover it. Prior to this incident, Yarnavick showed no signs of violent behavior, demonstrating that crimes of passion aren’t only limited to those who are young and impulsive.
13. The London Hatton Garden Heist
Whenever you hear of jewel heists, you can’t help but think of cat burglars contorting their way through laser sensors. But can you imagine doing all of those twists and turns with a replaced hip? Well, back in 2015, a group of men proved that a high-powered drill is all you need to overcome any handicaps. With ages ranging from 42 to 76-years-old, this motley crew broke into a vault in London’s Hatton Garden district and nabbed more than $15.5 million in cash and jewels.
Considering that one suspect (nicknamed the “Old Man”) had to lean on a bin as he struggled to catch his breath, it’s not surprising that they weren’t able to evade the police for long. Although, going solely off of appearances, you would never guess that they’d be able to pull off the “largest burglary in English legal history”. During a hearing, a member of the crew walked in with a pronounced limp, and another was so hard of hearing that he had trouble understanding a clerk’s questioning.
12. The Opa Bande Bank Robbery
Everyone can relate to the fear of not having enough money for retirement. However, few would resort to bank robbery to top off their pension. In 2005, three German men stole upwards of $1.09 million from not one, not two, but 12 banks! Known as the Opa Bande (Grandpa Gang), these 60 and 70-somethings also cited avoiding life in a retirement home as one of their key motivations.
Although, before they could fully achieve their goals, other issues had to be prioritized… like bathroom breaks. According to the other members of the gang, 74-year-old Rudolf Richter had to constantly stop to pee, which slowed down their entire operation. But that wasn’t where Richter’s troubles ended. During a heist in 2003, he almost ruined their escape plan when he slid on a sheet of ice. In the end, it seems the only break Richter caught was that he didn’t break his hip.
11. Threatening At Gunpoint For A Coupon
You’re just asking for trouble if you come between a person and their coupon. It’s a lesson that a couple of Walmart employees found out when they ran into 61-year-old Mary Alday back in 2013.
First, a clerk explained that their store didn’t accept coupons printed online, but Alday failed to get the message. Next, the assistant manager came to offer some backup. This time, Alday responded with some colorful language and rammed the manager with her shopping cart. The manager then followed Alday to the parking lot, where she was greeted by the disgruntled customer’s .38 caliber weapon.
Alday didn’t fire any shots, but she didn’t go down without a fight when the police pulled her over. She refused to give up her gun, which resulted in a swift tasering. Hard to believe that this whole fiasco was sparked by a coupon that offered savings to the tune of $1.
10. Crashing Into A Restaurant
Ask the experts, and they’ll say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There’s nothing that a good one can’t fix… except for maybe a broken window.
One morning in 2010, Charles Pierce (91) accidentally ran his car through the window of a local breakfast joint called Biscuits ‘N’ Gravy & More. A single customer was injured, but Pierce remarkably made it through without a scratch. After being in state of shock for about an hour, he worked up quite an appetite. So he did what any hungry person in a restaurant would do: order a hearty meal. Apparently, nothing calms the nerves like eggs, grits, bacon, coffee and toast. Especially when the topping on the cake is nothing but a reckless driving citation.
9. Pervy 911 Phone Calls
Everyone knows calling 911 for anything other than an emergency is bad form. But what if you really need to get something off of your chest? Clyde Hobbs (72) just needed somebody to talk to… about things that were more adult in nature.
In May 2012, he was arrested for calling 911 at least 17 times within a single day. Of course, this wasn’t Hobbs’ first rodeo. Reportedly, he had been committing the same crime since 2007. In fact, getting arrested had become so routine that when policed rolled up to his door, Hobbs allegedly asked, “Are you here to arrest me again?” In spite of his chummy relationship with the authorities, it doesn’t seem like he’ll have the opportunity to make any calls to his favorite hotline. Charged with making a false police report, Hobbs’ bail was set at $34,000. At last, 911 operators of Oklahoma City can rest a little easier.
8. Peeing On Co-workers’ Chairs
People sometimes have some strange ways of showing that they care. 59-year-old Raymond Charles Foley is one of those people. While working in the IT department of a financial services company in 2012, security cameras caught Foley adding some extra love to the chairs of his female co-workers. Now, love does come in all shapes and forms, but urine isn’t typically one of them.
Apparently, Foley kept up this spray and pray routine for about five months. He selected his targets based on physical attractiveness, and went as far as to comb through his company’s records to dig up more info on the ladies. It wasn’t until four of his female co-workers complained about the odd stains on their chairs that a sting was set up.
Fortunately, he turned himself in without any resistance. In addition to being charged with second-degree criminal mischief, he was billed for the damages made to chairs, which resulted in a fee of $4,500.
7. Pimping Out Their Kids
As guardians, parents are expected to look after their children’s safety. The last thing they’re supposed to do is throw their kids into harms way. But that’s exactly what Ronnie Lee McCall, 63, and his wife Connie Sue, did when they rented three of their daughters out for sex. This sexual exploitation continued for more than 2 years, with the McCalls’ daughters being transported around various locations in Tennessee and South Carolina. A number of the acts were recorded, and considering that the ages of the girls ranged from 12 to 17, the videos were essentially black market child p*rn.
When you’re busy running a sex trafficking ring, that doesn’t leave much time for other parental duties. In the McCalls’ Johnson City trailer, their 4th and youngest daughter was left unattended. When authorities discovered her, she had practically every sign of poor hygiene in the book: body and head lice, ringworm, flea bites and black teeth. Thankfully, there was a thorough cleaning of the house, and all four girls are now in foster care. As for their parents, Ronnie McCall was sentenced to life in prison, while Connie Sue will spend the next 18 years behind bars.
6. Kidnapping And Beating
The words “We need to talk” are almost never followed by anything positive. During his stay in west Germany, financial adviser James Amburn, was told these ominous words by some of his clients. Having invested $2.8 into Florida’s property market, they wanted to know why Amburn wasn’t able to deliver on his promise to reap returns of up to 12% interest.
This “pensioner gang” made up of men between the ages of 61 and 80, didn’t give Amburn much time to come up with an answer; he was bound, thrown into a box, and transported to a basement where he was confined for four days. During this period he was repeatedly beaten and coerced to sign documents that held him responsible for paying back the lost investments. Surprisingly, the gang also showed some warm hospitality by offering cake and coffee. Of course, that didn’t stop them from breaking two of Amburn’s ribs when he made a run for it.
Finally, Amburn was rescued by police when he weaved a coded SOS into a fax to his bank. Conventional wisdom would say that there’s no defense for this type of behavior, but the pensioners gave it the ‘ol college try. In their eyes, they had only invited their financial adviser over for a few days of “vacation”.
5. Burning Someone Alive
Conflicts with in-laws are by no means rare, but in the majority of cases, it’s nothing that can’t be solved by a civilized discussion. Although, that can all change when money’s involved. Mangal Bharat Thorat, a 62-year-old resident of Mumbai, wasn’t pleased with her daughter-in-law Neelam Thorat’s, dowry. Since marrying into the family, Neelam was tortured and thrown out of the house on two occasions.
Then in July of 2005, Mangal gave Neelam the choice to either cough up 100,000 rupees (about $1,460) or divorce her son. An argument ensued, and after Mangal beat Neelam, she doused her in kerosene and set her on fire. With 85 percent of her body covered in burns, Neelam died at Bhatia hospital. Even though Mangal was sentenced to life in prison, it’s doubtful that she was working alone. While her husband and son were accused, due to a lack of evidence, both were acquitted.
4. Messing With Pudding
It’s been said that proof is in the pudding, and sometimes that pudding contains some pretty interesting ingredients. Alexander and Christine Clement were both fans of Jell-O pudding, but they had one problem with this family favorite: it wasn’t for free. So, what’s a couple in their 60s to do when faced with such a dilemma? As it turns out, getting a refund just takes a little elbow grease and creativity.
The Clements purchased pudding mix from four different stores on Long Island, replaced the contents with a blend of salt and sand, and returned them to recoup their losses. At first, the strategy went swimmingly; no one noticed any foul play, so the packages were re-shelved. However, that didn’t last for long. After customers began to complain about the sand-filled boxes, investigators caught the Clements red handed via surveillance footage. When you factor legal fees into the equation, the entire scheme hardly seems worth the $1.20 that a 3.9oz. box of Jell-O goes for.
3. Stealing Christmas From Kids
The holidays are time for giving, and only a real grinch would think of stealing toys from impoverished children. But in 2009, Virginia Kelly (73) did more than just have a few questionable thoughts. Arrested on charges of embezzlement and grand theft, Kelly was accused of snatching toys from the U.S. Marines Corps Toys for Tots program. Just how many toys? Over the course of three months, authorities recovered more than 11,000 toys from three different locations: Kelly’s home, her daughter’s garage, and a storage unit she rented in Chula Vista, San Diego.
What makes this crime particularly shocking is that Kelly had dedicated much of her life to helping children. She was the president of the Latino Foster Parents Association, and had looked after four foster children of her own. Initially, Kelly faced a maximum of 5 years in prison, but was ultimately sentenced to just 60 days in jail and 120 days of house arrest.
2. Being A “Grass” Mastermind
If you’ve ever stopped by grandma’s house for some freshly baked brownies, you’d expect them to be made with tender love and care, not wacky tobacky. But if your grandma was Darlene Mayes, you might have gotten just that. When cops raided the Oklahoma residence of the 73-year-old drug king pin, they found two guns, four pounds of marijuana, and a whopping $247,000 in cash. Police had been on Mayes’ tail for years, suspecting that she had a hand in 40 percent of the pot trade that spanned from Tulsa, to parts of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.
Naturally, if you’re running an operation this large, you’re going to need some help, so why not make it a family affair? Mayes’ son, Jerry, was one of her most trusted dealers, but far from the most elusive. He was caught with not only a suspicious amount of money, but almost two pounds of pot. It’s hard to justify having that much ganja, but the money could’ve been for retirement. Supposedly, that was the initial excuse that Darlene Mayes gave authorities when they stumbled onto the mountain of cash in her home.
1. Leaving A Sticky Surprise At The Library
Libraries are generally places where you can enjoy some peace and quiet. Some of that serenity might be compromised if you picked up a book that was sticky or slimy, though. At the Ada County Community Library in Idaho, a string of bizarre incidents started in 2009. Books in a drive-up drop-box were found drenched in condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise and maple syrup. At first glance, it sounds like a prank played by a couple of knuckle headed teenagers. While it’s true that you’re as young as you feel, it’s safe to say that 75-year-old Joy Cassidy was far past her angsty, rebellious phase… or was she?
According to police, Cassidy was acting on behalf of her fellow senior citizens who had past conflicts with library staff and patrons. Although, you could argue that after inflicting upwards of $1,000 in damage, Cassidy was also hurting the people she fought to stick up for. When it was all said done, she alone had to pay a hefty price, including one month in jail, and a two year ban from all Boise area libraries.