The first look appeared to be a mannequin wearing a mustard-colored sweatshirt standing in the front window of a store in Warsaw.
But he was not a mannequin, but a 22 year old young man. He was standing motionless with outstretched arms holding shopping bags near two real mannequins wearing jeans. According to Warsaw police, as soon as the store closed, the man sprang into action to steal the jewelry.
In a separate incident, police said, after the shopping center closed, he ate at a bar, wore new clothes and then ran out through the store’s partially open gate. Later, he returned to the bar for another meal.
This will likely be their last meal at the shopping center for some time. Police have arrested the man and charged him with theft and burglary said in a statement on Wednesday. The statement did not say when the incidents occurred.
The saga of the man posing as a mannequin has joined the list of creative strategies criminals have used to avoid detection.
A failed bank robbery in 1995 that involved Using Lemon Juice as a Hide It inspired David Dunning, then a Cornell professor of social psychology, and Justin Kruger, who was a graduate student at the time, to coin the Dunning–Kruger effect. According to his theory, our disability masks our ability to recognize our own disability. The theory usually refers to an inability to recognize one’s low expertise in a subject area, but it can also apply to specific mistakes.
Professor Dunning said the man caught pretending to be a mannequin exemplified this principle because he was aware of the risks he faced, including that security cameras could capture his every move in real time. “If people choose a course of action, they believe it will work,” he said in an email. “Of course, it doesn’t always do that.”
The suspect faces up to 10 years in prison in Warsaw. Police said he was also accused of theft and burglary at other places.