From menacing clowns to murder selfies shared on social media, 2016 was a crazy year for crime. Here are what we at CrimeFeed think were the top-five trends in crime over the past year.
Creepy Clown Crime
No crime update would be complete without mentioning the #Clownpocalypse2016. It began back in August with rumors that someone dressed as a clown was trying to lure children into the woods behind an apartment complex in Greenville, South Carolina. Soon reports of clowns — from the teen stabbed to death in Pennsylvania by a clown-mask-wearing assailant to the 13-year-old in Virginia who reportedly tried to hire a clown to kill her teacher and the hatchet-carrying, makeup-wearing man who police say was scaring customers at a gas station — began surfacing on social media around the nation, and around the world. Though the hype died down as the holidays approached, only time will tell if a new clown crime wave will emerge in 2017. [ABC News]
Sadly, this year brought in in the trials of several suspects who shared shocking images of their crimes on social media. We saw spree killer Michael Vance streaming his flight from the cops on Facebook Live. There was the Texas man who killed his girlfriend and posted pics of her bloody corpse to Facebook. The grisly cases included the two gloating teenage girls in the UK who posed for a selfie during their torment of a vulnerable woman who they battered to death in a bloody orgy of violence. The girls were just 13 and 14 when they spent nine hours battering frail Angela Wrightson with a television set, a shovel, and a coffee table. Wrightson, 39, begged for her life, but the pair can be heard urging each other to “kill her,” and only paused to post pictures that they shared on social network Snapchat with a caption “Nah xx.” [DailyMail.com]
Police Body-Cam Shootings
This year was also a crucial turning point for police body cameras — it’s become clear that they have gone from departments using them on a largely experimental basis to becoming crucial pieces of evidence in cases ranging from the Orlando nightclub massacre to debates over shootings by officers of unarmed suspects including 19-year-old Dylan Noble in Fresno, California. The cameras also provide clues when officers are targeted: On December 21, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation [Macon.com]
Pokémon Go Crime
No roundup of 2016 crimes would be complete without mentioning Pokémon Go. During the mobile videogame craze, people in the process of capturing the Nintendo pocket monsters stumbled over bodies in Singapore, mowed down pedestrians in Japan — and one Russian woman even claimed to have been raped by a Pokémon. On the plus side, some players actually helped others while playing the game: Animals were found in the wild and brought to animal sanctuaries, one person who lost $2,000 had it returned by an honest player, and some shops that were transformed into Pokestops reported that business was booming during the game’s peak months.
There is no polite way of saying this: Fecal fiends had a busy year in 2016. From the Japanese woman who was so offended by her husband’s bathroom odor that she tried to kill him, to the New Jersey man who messed his pants in order to avoid arrest, and several other instances of pooping in public, crappy crimes appeared to be on the rise. One California homeowner got a shock after an unidentified woman was caught on camera dropping her pants and dumping on his lawn in a video that has gone viral on YouTube and other social media. This particular phantom pooper is still on the loose, so we’ll be watching for her return in 2017. [The Nanfang]
Main photo: Travis Pressley [Union County Sheriff’s Office]