Aussie Crime Bloopers, or Silly Scallywags.
Have you ever done something silly at work? Perhaps you’ve sent a form to the wrong office or knocked over a cup of coffee in a staff meeting. Everyone does it; it’s no big deal unless your occupation involves gunfire, detectives, and gaol.
Here’s a few examples of silly scallywags who made the coppers’ job just a little too easy.

Arrest by Chocolate: 
Early in 1996, a string of robberies had left the Adelaide authorities baffled. Some bugger was breaking into small businesses and pinching cash along with low-cost items. A few shopkeepers had opened their premises to discover empty safes and bare cake cabinets. How rude! The mastermind even left a note for the “Beuro” (bureau) stating they should “Be considering a new line of work.” The police were unable to locate any compelling evidence, such as fingerprints that matched a previously arrested person, and it seemed likely that several more shops would be hit.
Then, in the middle of the night, as the criminals of South Australia dispersed throughout their local neighbourhoods, a man jemmied open the skylight of a confectionary factory. He slipped unseen into the building and used an axe to smash the alarm system. Once again, the bandit was free to pilfer anything that took his fancy. His pockets were full of cash, and a wide, teasing smile stretched across his ingenious lips. As a special treat, the scallywag tasted some of the candy bars and tossed a half-eaten chocolate frog onto the cold concrete floor as he made his escape.
The next morning, the forensic team recovered the sweet indulgence, along with the perfect imprint of the burglar’s teeth, and identified the man responsible. I seriously doubt it was worth it.
For more info on “How Bitemarks Can Lead to Convictions,” visit for an article of the same name by Liz Porter.

A Story of Bullets and Fire:
Once upon a time, two naughty boys attacked and robbed a pair of ATM guards as they emptied the machine. A terrifying and exhilarating gunfight broke out in the Victorian cashpoint vestibule, and onlookers fled as bullets ricocheted off the brick walls. In all the commotion, the attackers managed to capture the bag of cash. Success! The men ran, shouting and jeering one another on as they giggled and pontificated upon the glorious contents of the stolen satchel.
They drove away in an old ute and ditched the vehicle in full view of several witnesses on a suburban street. As a tried and tested forensic countermeasure, the men drenched the car in petrol and set the machine alight.  A plume of black smoke speared into the clear blue sky. Once again, the men ran from the scene giggling, until they realised that neither of them was carrying the bag of money. Bugger! After a short sprint back to the inferno, one of the scoundrels accidentally set himself on fire as he reached back into the front seat to get the money.
Eventually, however, they did escape with the loot. Kudos! Unfortunately for the criminals, the police were able to narrow down their suspect list to anyone who had been set on fire in the last couple of days, and the first robber was quickly apprehended. His mate was a little more difficult. The second robber (who was not burned) evaded arrest for a while until the coppers pulled over a car with an interesting load in the boot. A man was hiding in the trunk with a bullet in his arm that matched a bullet that had been fired by the defending ATM guards. Apparently, he didn’t reckon the wound required treatment, and he hadn’t seen the need to visit the hospital.
He hadn’t seen the need to visit the hospital, where the police were waiting to question any gunshot victims.
There are hundreds of similar cases in Australia; sometimes criminals take selfies on the phones they pinch, sometimes they’re filmed by the security camera’s they’re stealing as they try to unplug the devices. But, let’s quickly touch on one more event that wasn’t categorically a crime blooper as much as it was a peculiar moment in Australia’s convict history.

The Great Rebellion (AKA Rum Rebellion):
On 26 January 1808 (that’s right, the rebellion was on Australia day, but before we called it “Australia Day”), Major George Johnston led 400 NSW Corp soldiers up the 700-metre path from their barracks to Government House. The politicians in attendance were taken completely by surprise, and not a single shot was fired as the governing body in New South Wales was overthrown. After searching the house over and over and over for two hours, Governor Bligh (the top dog) was finally found under a bed and accused of crimes so that the rebels could pretend to be the legal party in this surreal succession.
However, once word had gotten back to England, a formal replacement for Bligh was dispatched, and the new Governor (Lachlan Macquarie) arrived as soon as he possibly could, almost two full years after The Great Rebellion. Upon arrival, Governor Macquarie basically put everything back the way it was before the coup with a few concessions to keep the local scallywags happy.
Why did our ancestors rebel so savagely? Historical documents and official records tell us that Governor Bligh was a bit of a jerk. He was the same bloke who was mutinied against on The Bounty (a British ship), and he was famous for his short temper. In addition, Bligh stilted privatisation, insisting on the promotion of more general colonial development, and he shut down a string of distilleries to try and clean up the convict riffraff. It was a valiant idea, but politicians should remember not to get between Aussies and their rum.
Please note, this event occurred on “Australia Day,” but it is not the reason for our national day. Aussie day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet that dumped eleven ships worth of convicts onto this burnt country. Eleven ships of convicts, or as we sometimes call them: great, great, great… great grand-dad and his dodgy mates.
Also, the overthrow was originally titled, “The Great Rebellion” before the name was changed to “The Rum Rebellion.” Rum Rebellion sounds a little sexier, and you might agree, it’s more accurate than Great Rebellion,
If you’d like to know more, there’s a pretty good documentary series called “The Origins of the Rum Rebellion.” It’s on YouTube and the hour long presentation details the issues surrounding the final aggression.

If you enjoyed reading about the forensic aspect of the first two Aussie crime bloopers in this post, check out “Written on the Skin.” It’s an Australian forensic casebook by Liz Porter (the same fantastic author who wrote the article “How Bitemarks Can Lead to Convictions” we mentioned earlier). This book will lead you through the strange and interesting world of evidence with some enthralling true Australian examples.


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