Grab your pencil and a piece of paper, let’s get to the drawing board! When a person commits a crime and flees the scene before police arrive, authorities often ask witnesses to describe the suspect in order to create a sketch. After taking all of the witnesses’ and victims’ statements, a composite sketch is then created of the suspect and released to the public in an effort to engage the community to find and stop the criminal.
With incredible artistic talent in even the police force, there have been some memorable composite sketches throughout history, such as the Unabomber or DB Cooper. But, not everyone is as talented, which means that there have been quite a number of bad sketches, and that’s even putting it nicely.
From drawings that look like a toddler’s masterpiece to computer generated images that are absolutely ridiculous, it’s amazing that some criminals ever get caught. So which of the police sketches were among the worst? We found 18 of the most hilarious police sketch fails of all time. You’ll even be surprised to learn that some of them actually led to an arrest. Let’s take a look!
#18 – Super
Do you remember Ernest from Ernest Goes to Jail? Despite looking like Jim Varney’s twin from the Ernest film franchise, the man pictured on the left is actually not Varney or Ernest at all. Since we only know that the man is a criminal from Minnesota, we’ll call him our John Doe in true police-crime fashion. So how exactly did our John Doe end up a cartoon?
Drawn by the Minnesota Police Department’s only full-time sketch artist, John Doe’s picture looks quite a bit different from the criminal sketch. Somehow, Doe lost both his baseball cap and his uni-brow between being a wanted man and getting caught. Heck, we aren’t even sure how the police managed to find the Minnesota man as the drawing makes him look more like a character from Super Mario Bros. and a lot less like Ernest. Either way, the police were undoubtedly confused and we can’t say we blame them.
#17 – Rundles
Meet Glenn Rundles of Paris, Texas. Rundles, pictured on the right, was arrested by a patrolman who, believe it or not, recognized him from the sketch on the left. That’s right, someone was actually able to identify the criminal thanks to the sketch pictured here. Despite looking more like a first grader’s masterpiece from art class, the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department actually claimed that the sketch was drawn by someone highly experienced in the craft.
Needless to say, the amateur sketch caused quite the stir once it was publicized and the Department came under a great deal of scrutiny as many feared the thief would never be caught on just the drawing alone. The sketch, which was a composite from two different witnesses, ultimately proved to be enough, however, as Rundles was identified, arrested and later charged with aggravated robbery and a long list of other crimes.
#16 – The Search is On
Wait a second, is that really you? When the police release their latest criminal sketch, local news stations are often instrumental in helping to catch the criminal as they make the community aware of potential danger or threats. ABC’s Channel 7 anchor, Marc Brown of Los Angeles, was doing exactly that when he warned the audience about the ongoing search for a rapist. But, was the bad guy closer than everyone thought?
In what might be the worst luck ever, both Brown and the Channel 7 audience did a double take: their favorite local news anchor actually looked like the rapist. One viewer even taped Brown’s report and posted it to social media, causing it to go viral. Thankfully, Brown wasn’t the rapist that Sothern California police were searching for but, he’s since learned to look through his notes during commercial break to avoid another double take on live television.
#15 – Lucky
Calling all Daft Punk fans, there’s a new member in the band! It’s not just here in the United States where police come up with some pretty bad sketches, it actually happens to be an epidemic that plagues the entire world. Pictured here (or not), this criminal was being sought after by the Royal Thai Police in 2008 after he stole 200,000 baht from the Ladprao Government Savings Bang in Bangkok. So, what happened to the sketch?
Police asked witnesses to describe the robber so that they could create a sketch but, the witnesses claimed that the thief was wearing a motorcycle helmet that hid his face. So, instead of scrapping the sketch altogether, the police created this interesting image that proved to be about as helpful as the paper on which it was printed. Whatever or whoever it is, we aren’t sure if this is a criminal or the newest member of Daft Punk, so we’ll let you decide!
#14 – Shifty
Meet Mr. Shifty Eyes, one of Missouri’s most wanted criminals in 2008. In Leadington, Missouri, Kory Wakefield, a 17 year old football player, had his mind of Friday’s big game when a strange man held him at gunpoint and abducted him early one Monday morning. With plans to flee the state and avoid arrest, the criminal held the 300 pound football player at gunpoint as he forced him to drive.
Sending text messages while driving to alert his family and friends, Wakefield later crashed his car on purpose just so that he could escape. Once the police arrived on scene, the criminal was long gone, leaving a criminal sketch as their only hope for justice. Since Wakefield spent so much time with the man, he was confident in his description but, somehow, the sketch artist missed the mark. From the bowl cut and the shifty eyes to his odd shaped ears, we only hope that the police used their imagination more than the actual sketch to find this dangerous criminal!
#13 – Lettuce
Sometimes, technology does more harm than good, just as the police in England who have taken to using digital sketches with the hopes of getting more accurate details of criminals. But, as we can see here, it doesn’t always work out that way. In 2010, this criminal was accused of a burglary in Stockbridge, Hampshire when witnesses described him as having wavy hair. When the police entered the information into the system, the software betrayed them and the criminal by giving him lettuce for hair.
A spokesperson for the police attempted to defend the picture by saying that “while the hair on this image may not be of the best quality, it takes nothing from the overall clarity of the facial features…It would therefore be wrong to withhold the release of the sketch just based on this technical issue.” So, lettuce hair and all, the police stood behind their software and proved that sometimes even the smartest technology really can be stupid.
#12 – Keep it Simple
Seeing a police sketch of someone who is wanted for murder can send chills down your spine, especially if the sketch is realistic. In this case, however, you’re more inclined to launch yourself into a fit of laughter than to experience any kind of chills. With what looks more like a doodle from a grade school student, this police sketch from Bolivia leaves a lot to the imagination making it a complete miracle that police were even able to catch this murderer!
With some of the most uninspired facial features we’ve ever seen, the cartoon sketch doesn’t even have ears and looks more like one of the Three Stooges! But, the Bolivian police proved that a realistic sketch, with or without ears, didn’t matter as they caught three suspects from this photo alone after the murder of a taxi driver who had been stabbed nearly a dozen times and was then burned. News stations even posted the drawing throughout Bolivia, proving that, despite our criticism of the cartoon, even the media took this wonky drawing serious!
#11 – Wolfman
Haven’t we already learned that sometimes criminal sketches and technology don’t mix? Police in Virginia were looking for a man on the run but, according to their computerized sketch, they might not have been looking in the right places. The suspect had attempted to abduct two women but had failed both times, leaving the victims to give the police their description of the man. However, last time we checked, werewolves stick to the woods and stay off the main roads. Haven’t the police seen any horror movies?
With a vague list of details, the police placed the man between 28 and 35 years old of average height and average build with a mustache, which doesn’t seem to have made it on the sketch. Unsure of the man’s race, hair length or pretty much anything else, it’s no surprise that the software generated someone who looks more like a werewolf from a cheesy B-level horror movie than an actual person! Maybe the police should check the Virginia hills for this caveman, after all he might still be on the loose with a time machine and his red hoodie!
#10 – Bieber?
Uh oh, Bieber Fever is at it again! Last year in Sacramento, California, police were on the hunt for a man who made lewd gestures to a female jogger during her early morning run. The man, who resembles Justin Bieber in this sketch, exchanged “Good morning” pleasantries with the jogger before he popped up again, grabbed his crotch and asked, “Can I unzip my pants”. How’s that to get the adrenaline pumping?
The woman ignored the man and continued running, finally reaching a safe place where she called the police and filed a report. Described as an Indian man in his late 20s, it’s no surprise that police were unable to catch this creeper as they were obviously looking for a Justin Bieber lookalike. From the bushy eyebrows to the long hair and feminine lips, absolutely nothing about this sketch makes this man look Indian, perhaps alien, but definitely not Indian. Who exactly was this sketch artist imagining anyway?
#9 – Crimewatch
Welcome to Wayne’s World! For more than 30 years, British citizens have helped police capture the country’s most wanted criminals thanks to the television program, “BBC Crimewatch”. Often considered as the British version of “America’s Most Wanted”, it’s obvious that the show’s budget for sketch artists is not as good as its American counterpart. Releasing some of the most memorably terrible sketches in history, this one might just take the crown as the funniest.
Though British people don’t have a solid reputation as being the best looking folks in the world, even this sketch is a little demeaning to the Brits. Looking like something straight out of Wayne’s World or perhaps a roadie for a Poison tribute band, this poor guy really caught the bad end of the deal even for a criminal. With the 1990s as the golden age for digital criminal sketches on the show, we can only hope modern technology has done more for even the goofiest of looking bad guys.
#8 – Bucket Teeth
Hey dude, Gilligan wants his hat back! In Covington, Kentucky, 40 year old Joseph Weir robbed a bank and escaped from the Crestview Town Center but not before he kidnapped a 76 year old woman. With plenty of witnesses to the crime, police were able to get a fairly decent description of Weir who supposedly had terrible teeth and was wearing one of the goofiest hats seen since “Gilligan’s Island”.
Complete with his hat and even chicklets for teeth, the sketch artist brought Weir’s description to life, which ultimately led Kentucky police to find him. Convicted of both bank robbery and kidnapping, you won’t see this bucktoothed bucket hat wearer on the streets of Kentucky anytime soon as this guy went straight to federal prison where he faces a minimum of 32 years. It’s safe to say that Weir is probably wishing he was hanging out with the Skipper right about now.
#7 – Chilled
The next man on our list could easily win the award for the Most Relaxed Criminal of All Time. In March 2015, police released a sketch of a man from Mount Prospect, Illinois who was described as being in his mid-50s and approximately 5’5” tall with a beer gut. After meeting a 22 year old woman at a Mail Box Plus store, the man became smitten and found the courage to ask the woman on a date. Naturally, the young beauty said “No”, but that wasn’t the end of it.
Upset by the rejection, the man touched the victim in a second attempt at a “Yes” before she pushed him away. Fleeing to his car, witnesses said he then leaned “back and to the right”, which the sketch artist obviously thought to mean that he was relaxing. Though we are doubtful the man was actually relaxed, we can’t help but think he might have smoked a lot of marijuana before ever stepping foot into the store. Isn’t that why some people call it “all-natural” courage?
#6 – Digital Wig
Third time is a charm, isn’t it? The third digital sketch on our list is even worse than the first criminal’s lettuce hair, if you can imagine! Once again from England, we travel to Gloucester where a suspect was accused of burglary at a shop in Cheltenham one afternoon in January. According to the police report, the suspect made off with three purses and an iPhone before bailing out of the back of the store and, supposedly, to freedom.
Witnesses and victims described the suspect as approximately in his late 30s with short dark hair and a beard. Obviously, the digital sketch program completely butchered the description and gave the suspect what appears to be a clipart wig with a beard created by a bunch of tiny dots. Ok, so we have to ask: With all of the state of the art surveillance equipment today, why is it so hard to create a decent digital sketch?
#5 – Wii Are Still Looking
And you thought the last sketch was bad! While the Xbox and PlayStation gaming consoles might be the reigning kings of the video game industry in the United States, Japan is forever loyal to Nintendo. The newest Nintendo console, the Wii U, is an upgraded version of the Wii and offers more options and games. Yet, one thing remains the same: Wii avatars.
For one car thief in Japan in 2009, police from Kanagawa were able to get a description of the suspect but couldn’t manage to find the time to create an actual police sketch. Instead, in true Japanese fashion, police generated a Wii avatar and posted the cartoon and the stolen car around town. Since avatar options are fairly limited on the Wii, it’s highly likely that the avatar looked nothing like the real criminal. Hey, maybe the police were trying to kill two birds with one stone and fight cybercrime as well! Who knows?
#4 – Hat Trick
Why even bother? Sometimes, and especially with drawings like this, we can’t help but wonder what the artist was even thinking? In 2008, the South Wales police were searching the area for a man suspected in a robbery when they finally took to asking witnesses about what they saw. Apparently, witnesses didn’t see much of the man other than the fact that he was wearing a hat and covering his eyes, go figure.
Working on only a hunch, the police couldn’t help but find the sketch completely worthless as they learned nothing new about the suspect other than the fact that he wore a baseball cap (and had chapped lips). If the local news bothered to air the sketch, it’s probably safe to say that not too many viewers even bothered to call in with a tip. Why would they when they were only shown half of his face?
#3 – Ninja Time
Meet the new ninja warrior, or maybe not! Police in Suffolk, England were looking for a man in April 2014 who threated another man’s life with a knife in a deserted parking lot. After making the threats, the suspect searched the victim’s car for any valuables and took what he could find before bolting off into the night. Who was that masked man?
The victim described the suspect as being thin and wearing a black hat and black mask which told police that it could easily have been anyone in Suffolk. Narrowing it down, police thought that the man was most likely in his 30s and about 5’10” tall. With little else to go on, the masked ninja warrior was born, sending police to look for a regular guy with obviously bad intentions.
#2 – Lopsided
Where should we even begin? Police in Kent were looking for a robber from Cliftonville who had pushed a victim’s head into the wall before two other suspects jumped in and helped steal cigarettes out of the victim’s pocket. According to the victim, the original suspect, the man who pushed his head into the wall, was a dark-skinned and unshaven European with long hair and a stocky build. Sounds easy enough, right?
Apparently the police heard something entirely different as there is nothing at all natural about this digital sketch. Instead of having a stocky frame, the suspect is rather pear-shaped with long hair only on one side of his face. Though the spray painted eyebrows are quite comical, those nostrils must be the pointiest in the entire world! What was this artist thinking? Perhaps he spent too much time stretching out Bowser’s face in the original Mario Party and thought he was a real sketch artist? Pick a different hobby, mister!
#1 – Little Sketch
Ending the list on an entirely different note, this terrible sketch wasn’t actually drawn by the police. Instead, it was drawn by 11 year old Rebecca DiPietro who witnessed her family being robbed in Stratford, Connecticut and knew that she could help police capture the bad guy, who had already robbed multiple families throughout her hometown.
Sitting down with a pencil and paper, Rebecca bravely drew the man she saw raiding her home and handed her creation over to the police. With multiple suspects for the robberies, the police most likely didn’t use the sketch but were still able to find the criminal after a lengthy investigation and search. Still, we would like to think that this sketch was one of the many reasons police were able to stop the serial robber in Connecticut and make a little girl feel safe again in her home.