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by Pauli Poisuo
How many crimes did you solve when you were a child? You don’t have to answer -- we’re pretty sure that number is “zero,” because busting your brother for snooping in your parents’ closet for a sneak peek at Christmas presents doesn’t count.
While you spent your childhood playing with Pogs or your Pet Rock or whatever, some kids spent theirs helping police solve actual crimes. Real ones, like with criminals and everything.
Two Children Solve A Hit-And-Run By Drawing A Map Of The Incident
In 2017, a 9-year-old boy and his 8-year-old cousin were returning home from school in the tiny, tongue-twisting German town of Oer-Erkenschwick, when they witnessed a hit-and-run: A car rammed into the side of a parked vehicle, then fled the scene, just like those jerks at the grocery store.
Small towns like Oer-Erkenschwick obviously don’t have cameras installed on every street corner, so the police might have had a rough go of solving the crime. Fortunately, the cops were in for an easy day’s work: The two cousins didn’t just shrug, say, “Whoa, awesome car crash!” then run home to play video games. Instead, they put on their best CSI caps, grabbed a box of felt-tip pens, and drew a detailed map of the incident for the police.
That’s ... actually pretty amazing. We’re no crime scene investigators, but even we can see how the driver wheeled out of her garage, slammed into the parked car, and then did a confused “I’m going this way ... no wait, crap, actually that way” routine then pulling over to assess the damage before taking off. That’s pro level stuff, right there. In fact, it’s better than professional -- let’s see actual investigators make a sketch that’s so accurate it even shows the colors of the flowers in the nearby garden.
Armed with a solid crime scene sketch like that, it was child’s play for the cops to track down the driver and throw down the appropriate charges. After all, as a police spokesperson said about the incident: “If I’m being honest, the sketches of my colleagues often don’t look better.”
Kids Form A Human Arrow To Help A Police Helicopter Track Down Suspects
What would you do if you witnessed a police chase scene, and had to improvise a way to direct a police helicopter in the right direction? Sort of flail your hands and hope to catch their attention? Build a giant bonfire? Set off some fireworks until the helicopter lands then explain your business to the officers who undoubtedly will wonder what in the hell you were doing?
Sure, you could try those, but there are better ways. Like maybe grabbing some friends and forming a sweet human arrow to guide law enforcement in the right direction:
Yes, that actually happened. In 2016, a group of kids were taking part in an Easter egg hunt outside London when they suddenly saw two men racing across a field. Soon afterwards, they spotted a police helicopter hovering above, clearly scanning the ground for the men that the children had just seen. Realizing that the cops had maybe lost track of the suspects, the kids immediately leapt in action. They formed an 8-person human arrow in the middle of the field, and when the police spotted it, they relayed the information to the officers on the ground.
After a quick search in the direction the arrow pointed, the two men, who turned out to be suspected burglars, were apprehended. And more importantly, an officer finally got to realize the Saturday morning cartoon dreams of his inner child by using the phrase “human arrow” in an arrest report.
Australian School Kids Go Full CSI On A Vandal
Brookstead State School in Australia had a problem: A vandal was slashing the nets of their tennis court. Fortunately, they also had a solution: A group of their own students, who cracked the case with methods straight out of the CSI handbook.
The school had offered a forensic science subject for that particular term, and the kids really loved it. When the chance to apply the theories they’d studied in practice manifested in the form of the tennis court vandal, a group of 20 primary school students immediately leaped into action. First, they secured the scene. Then, they carefully searched the area. This yielded results: They found some suspicious footprints near the net, and photographed them.
The vandal was unaware that he had a crack team of Sherlock Holmes Juniors on his trail, so later that night, he decided to graduate from vandalism to straight up theft. He broke into the school’s tuckshop (an Aussie spin on canteen) and stole a bunch of food. When this was discovered the next day, the school called the police. To their amazement, the officers at the scene were greeted by a beaming group of pint-sized crime scene investigators who gave them the photos of the shoe impressions.
“Our theory has also concluded that the culprit is a doody-head jerkface.”
Because people who vandalize school tennis courts and break into buildings for some snacks are rarely master criminals, the police were able to track down the suspect pretty easily. However, getting him to confess could have been a whole lot more difficult if they didn’t have the kids’ footprint photos. After the cops compared the photos with the suspect’s shoes, they had more than enough physical evidence to make a conviction.
Presumably, aspiring vandals give Brookstead State School a wide berth these days.
An Eight-Year-Old Tracks Down His Stolen iPad
Eight-year-old Landon Crabtree didn’t much care for the fact that his iPad had been stolen. Oh, and the burglar who took it stole a bunch of other stuff from his family, too. However, Landon had an ace up his sleeve: One of the apps he had loaded on the iPad was a tracking app. That’s pretty par for the course nowadays, but this was 2012, and again, Landon was freaking eight. So in this case that counts as Batman levels of preparedness.
Of course, Landon wasn’t quite certain how to use the app. So he started researching. He used YouTube clips to teach himself how to use the location service, and soon, was able to find the stolen iPad ... just four miles away from the Crabtree home. Then, Landon walked up to his dad, and said that he knew where the stolen device was. Imagine being the father in that scenario: Your kid just casually waltzes up and says that he cracked the case of your stolen stuff by tapping a screen a few times. If you’re not particularly tech savvy, this sounds a lot like a scenario where you’re tempted to dunk your kid in holy water just to see if they’re dabbling in witchcraft.
But don’t be too hasty, because they might be able to help you find your car keys.
Landon’s father describes it pretty well: “It’s a different generation. I never knew something like this existed, and I never thought my 8-year-old would figure out how to download it and come down and tell me this is where our stuff is.”
After the initial “Wait, what?” shock had worn off, the Crabtrees went to the police with Landon’s discovery. The cops followed the tracking app to the nearby Ambassador Inn Motel, where they caught the thief red-handed with lots of stolen stuff ... including some from at least one other robbery. And just like that, little Landon Crabtree had not only caught the burglar who thieved his precious iPad, but stopped an actual crime spree.
An 11-Year-Old Girl’s Stick Figure Drawing Helps Catch A Criminal
You’d think that stick figures are … well, stick figures. Surely, every kid can doodle those. There’s nothing especially noteworthy about them -- hell, their whole point is their lack of features. And yet, somehow, an 11-year-old girl managed to draw a stick figure that captured a someone’s essence so well that the police captured the criminal based on that drawing.
Stratford, Connecticut, 2015: A string of unsolved burglaries was giving police a headache, so they decided to do a little bit of door-to-door questioning and see if anyone knew anything. One of the doors they knocked on was the home of 11-year-old Rebecca DePietro. The DePietro house was among the ones that had been burglarized, and the officer wanted to know if Rebecca had seen anyone suspicious. She had, and she offered to draw a picture of the person in question. The police officer left the house with a two-minute stick figure doodle of the man Rebecca had seen. It was such a quick drawing that Rebecca herself suspected that the cop would just throw it away.
Instead, she soon received some strange news: The police had cracked the case, and it was because of her drawing.
Obviously, the cops were only humoring the kid, right? Surely they just took that quick drawing of hers, stuck it on the door of the break-room fridge, and said that it totally helped them solve the case, just to be nice? Yeah, they could have done that, but they didn’t. The drawing was an absolutely instrumental part in catching the crook: The officers took the picture to the station and superimposed it with photos of the suspected burglar. Now convinced that they had the right guy, they made an arrest. The man soon confessed to no less than ten burglaries in the area, including the one at the DePietro house.
The cops were so impressed with Rebecca DePietro’s mad sketching skills that they officially honored her for her exemplary detective work. She even stood beside uniformed police officers during an official commendation ceremony.
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