You wouldn’t think that the FBI would be filled with sneakerheads, but you’d be surprised. Being able to identify a sneaker’s unique footprint or recognise a valuable shoe could make the difference between getting your man and letting him get away.
Case in point: FBI agents investigating a series of armed robberies across Michigan arrested an aspiring TikTok star after he was spotted dancing in what investigators described as his “stick-up shoes,” The Detroit News reports.
Chozen Terrell-Hannah, who goes by @chozenwrld on TikTok where he has just over 150,000 followers, was nabbed by the FBI after they connected the distinctive Nike sneakers he’s worn in many of his videos with a string of violent robberies across Metro Detroit.
The 22-year-old had gone on a three-month-long crime spree, where he’d stuck up convenience stores (and ironically, sneaker stores) in a black hoodie, a black ski mask and white Nike React Presto sneakers using a Glock 23 pistol chambered in .40 S&W.
A tip-off led the police to suspect someone with the Snapchat handle @Chozenn_One (someone should have turned off their Snap Map…) Investigators learned the account’s name had been changed to “ChozenWrld” – which they easily connected to the TikTok profile with the same name.
If that wasn’t enough of a paper trail, Terrell-Hannah had worn the distinctive Nike sneakers in a number of TikToks dating as far back as 2020. If you thought TikTok dances were pretty cringe, we’d say that pales in comparison with the embarrassment he’s probably feeling right now having got stung thanks to wearing his sneakers in those videos.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a criminal’s sneakers have been responsible for their capture. For example, Richard Ramirez, better known as ‘The Night Stalker’ or ‘The Walk-In Killer’ – a serial killer active in the 80s who, in 1989, was convicted of thirteen counts of murder, five attempted murders, eleven sexual assaults, and fourteen burglaries – was also caught thanks to his distinctive sneakers.
The distinctive footprint left by Ramirez’s Avia sneakers helped police connect the killer to many of his crimes, a process depicted in detail in the Netflix documentary series Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer.