In 2009, three masked robbers broke into one of the largest departmental stores in Europe through a rope ladder and stole 5 million Euros worth of goods. They were able to systematically bypass all security measures and escape with their loot – but they made a grievous error – they left one glove behind. This could have been fatal for the robbers, as the forgotten glove opened up the possibility of DNA identification. However, this horrible blunder became the biggest boon for the thieves, as the DNA from the glove matched two people – two identical twins! According to German law, each perpetrator needs to be charged individually, based on individual DNA identification, and since their DNA was identical, neither could be convicted – the law had to set both of them free in spite of their crimes!

In 2012, a group of criminals in the USA carried out an elaborate car robbery involving a large number of automobiles. Everything was going according to plan, when suddenly one of the robbers accidentally ‘butt-dialled’ the emergency number 911 on his mobile phone, which was still in his pocket! The accidental call was sent not one, but four times – directly to the police station! The police got to hear much of the conversation between the carjackers over the unintentionally dialled phone and arrested them before long.

Pivotal role that ‘luck’ plays in a criminal venture

These two contrasting instances of crime, the first successful and the second a total failure, clearly demonstrate the pivotal role that ‘luck’ plays in a criminal venture. In both the cases, the criminals were methodical, their planning was sound, and they executed the heists like seasoned experts, not like bungling amateurs.

But in both cases an unforeseen twist of fate decided the fates of the criminals. Who could have predicted that leaving behind a glove could provide the perfect alibi for the robbers, exposing a gaping loophole in the legal system? In the second case, the car robbery, who on earth could have thought that after all that the criminals did, they would get caught because of an accidental phone call to the police itself from the cell phone of one of the carjackers?

In the first instance, the accident with the glove turned out to be a happy accident for the criminals, and in the second, the bizarre incident with the phone turned out to be a horrible mishap. It is this unforeseen element of chance and luck that often decides which crimes succeed, and which go down in history as epic failures.

Essential components of a successful crime

Any hardened criminal or expert on criminology would agree that the most essential components of a successful crime are:

Meticulous planning, which involves carefully choosing the time, place, and method of the crime, taking into account all possible outcomes and situations to handle;

Careful preparation, ensuring proper delegation of functions, training and equipment, as well as precise coordination among those involved;

Smooth execution, avoiding mistakes and fatal errors, improvising if need be.

In practice, it is a different story

However, after everything is said and done, on paper it may seem perfect – but in practice, it is a different story. The moment seemingly ‘perfect’ plans are put into action, they are exposed to the unpredictable and highly volatile forces of luck and chance. In a way, a premeditated crime is like a performance.

And no matter how well the performer prepares, or how experienced he is, no one can ensure a flawless performance every time. As with any performance, crime can be successful provided you have luck on your side. Perhaps that is the reason why criminals are often known to be a superstitious lot.