Imagine you're a well-known turncoat from the English Civil War, and now that King Charles II (whose father you betrayed) has returned to the throne, you've fled to Ireland to lay low and lick your wounds. Is your first course of action going to be to personally steal the crown jewels right out of the Tower of London? That's what self-styled colonel Thomas Blood decided to do, and though he didn't get away with it, it turned out to be the best decision he ever made. Here's how it went down.
First, Blood acquainted himself with the 1671 equivalent of a laser security system: a locked cabinet and a 77-year-old man named Talbot Edwards. Pretending to be a parson, he befriended poor Talbot, plied him with generous gifts, and suggested that he had a wealthy nephew whom the older man's daughter might marry. But when the "nephew" showed up with two burly companions in tow, they all overpowered the septuagenarian and crammed the crown and scepter down their pants (seriously). They didn't get far, but Blood refused to answer for his crimes to anyone but Charles II. See, the king was a notorious hedonist with a great love for roguish scoundrels. Simply by pulling off this scheme and then daring to stand before the king, Blood earned a full pardon and a plot of land in Ireland worth £500 a year. Talbot—remember him? The old man who got betrayed and stabbed?—was only granted £300 a year, and even that amount was never fully paid. But he did survive the attack and held on to his position, presumably checking the credentials of anyone proposing to his daughter from that point on.