by Jim Winter
About a decade ago, several businesses on Cincinnati's east side
suffered break-ins, almost always on a Sunday night. Police could not
get a handle of the suspects. They would break in, lift the safe, and
leave absolutely no evidence behind. By the time they had an arrest,
they had found several safes in the nearby Little Miami River, and
businesses had lost well over $100,000.
Surprisingly, two of the safe crackers worked for cigarettes. So how did the police find out?
Ring leader Jimmy Godfrey liked to walk into an East End bar and brag about his heists to his buddies.
the man smart enough to hit safes when they would hold the most money
and insist on his fellow thieves wearing gloves while not allowing them
to spit or use the bathroom was not smart enough to keep his mouth shut.
The story of how the police busted this ring is straight out of a
You would think Godfrey was a criminal
mastermind. He forbade his fellow thieves from eating, drinking,
smoking, or going to the bathroom to avoid leaving any traces behind for
forensic technicians to find. See, Godfrey was a fan of CSI,
and he actually learned something from the show. He even avoided wearing
the same shoes twice on a job. Why? He didn't want anyone tracing the
Godfrey was also persuasive. He convinced
his girlfriend and two relatives to work for cigarettes while Godfrey
himself pocketed the cash. The problem was how Godfrey disposed of some
of the swag he stole. One neighbor in East End, a rundown neighborhood
along the Ohio River known at the time more for its Confederate flags
and rusty cars than anything else, took a big-screen TV from a nearby
shop and mounted it in his apartment. In 2004, big screens and LCD's
were about as common as electric cars are today. Godfrey's girlfriend
helped herself to a handful of expensive Christmas tree toppers.
for Godfrey, some of his relatives were more than willing to sell him
out to the police for very little. One woman received $35 in exchange
for information about Godfrey's nocturnal activities. But they weren't
the only ones. Godfrey's own worst enemy was Godfrey himself.
paid very close attention to detail on his jobs: Taking care to leave
no evidence, using rubber gloves, even timing his jobs for maximum take.
However, he did two things wrong. His own cohorts sold him out since he
would keep all the cash. But that was not his worst mistake. If you
wanted to know who robbed Mt. Lookout Television, City Beverage, or the
Sky Galley restaurant, just ask anyone living along Eastern Avenue, the
main drag through East End. Godfrey would brag about his crimes to
anyone who would listen.
To add insult to injury,
Godfrey would have been done in by his own brother, who was sloppy by
Jimmy Godfrey's standards. The younger Godfrey would frequently leave
traces of himself behind, and once banged his head during a job. The
injury bled which gave evidence technicians a nice DNA sample to use
just in case Jimmy Godfrey clammed up.