Industry News

Dumb criminals can’t keep their mouths shut on Facebook

We often warn about the dangers of over-sharing information on social networking sites.

But when it’s thieves who are making the mistake of being too loose-lipped on Facebook, we’re all in favour.

It’s almost eight o’clock on the evening of Monday March 2nd, on Portobello High Street in Edinburgh. Four men drive up outside the Ladbrokes bookmakers in a black Audi A1 car. Three of them get out. One is wearing an orange hoody, dark glasses and a dust mask. The others – carrying what appears a gun and a hammer – are wearing white paper boiler suits with their hoods up, gloves and balaclavas.

Within minutes they are on their way, racing off in the getaway car – which they later abandon – with £4100 and an Armani watch they stole from a member of staff.


It’s clear that the masked men did not want to be identified.

Which must have made it slightly sub-optimal that one of the gang said “Gary, this way” to his partner-in-crime as they fled.

But there was worse to come, because 21-year-old Gary Pacitti – who was charged just one week later – had a tendency to talk too much on Facebook.


In the aftermath of the armed robbery, unemployed Pacitti posted a message on his Facebook page, accompanied by an “ashamed” emoticon:

I love money, that’s my problem.”

When his sister asked him what he had done, Pacitti let the cat out of the bag:

“Ladbrokes Portobello”

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Hardly a criminal mastermind then.

CCTV footage taken at the bookmakers and witness reports revealed that the paper boiler suit-wearing man holding the gun was in his twenties and around 5 foot 6 inches tall.

In addition, Pacitti’s DNA was also found on a dustmask recovered near the getaway car, according to the Edinburgh News.

As 5 foot 6 inch tall Pacitti was already known to the authorities – at the time of the incident he was on bail, deferred sentence, a drug treatment and testing order and a community payback order – it doesn’t appear to have been too much of a leap for the authorities to piece this particular puzzle together.

It later emerged that the day before the robbery, Pacitti had posted a message on his Facebook page saying “Five year for a few grand – no thank you”, followed by later adding that he was “feeling lucky”.

No, Pacitti wasn’t lucky. It was the authorities that were lucky that they were dealing with such a dumb criminal.

Since his arrest, Pacitti hasn’t been able to entirely give up his Facebook addiction – commenting that he was “Looking at a nice 7 year… you win some, you lose some”.

Pacitti’s sentence has been deferred until July. The three other members of the gang remain at large.

Hey, here’s an idea, has anyone thought of checking out Pacitti’s Facebook friends list?

About the author


Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats.

Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security.


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  • “I love money, that’s my problem.”

    No, the problem you have is that you’re an arrogant, unethical tosser. You’re also quite proud of your ‘success’ even though it is nothing to be proud of but rather ashamed of (that you resorted to theft shows the opposite of success, actually… and if nothing else, it shows a lack of good character). There is one really, really good thing about you though (we all have at least something!). You’re stupid enough to brag about crimes you’ve committed. Not only brag about it but brag about it on Facebook. Well done! It is good you are also capable of being a good civilian in that you report crimes… albeit your own!

  • Had this occurred in the Americas, none of those evidences would have held up in court, had he a decent lawyer.