DOCUMENT: Internet, Crime

Instagram Star Is 2017 Jackass Of The Year

Crime pays for the online influencer "Boonk"

View Document

2017's Top Jackass

DECEMBER 19--In less than a year, John Robert Hill has amassed nearly four million followers on Instagram, a towering achievement for a 21-year-old aspiring rapper whose primary talents are larceny and vandalism.

Hill, a Florida native who recently relocated to Los Angeles, is known as “Boonk.” His “Boonk Gang” Instagram page and his other social media feeds showcase Hill’s practice of recording the criminal offenses he commits. He then keeps the camera running as he flees the crime scene, making sure to scream, between cackles, his catchphrase, “Boonk gang! Whole lotta gang shit!”

Since April, Hill and his sidekicks have recorded videos in Florida, New York, and California, breaking an assortment of laws in the process. Hill has stolen headphones, jewelry, sneakers, iPhones, and food from merchants like Walmart, Family Dollar, Walgreens, Dunkin' Donuts, and Popeyes. He has dined and dashed at restaurants, stiffed barbers, and even bolted from a tattoo parlor after getting new ink on his neck.

Hill’s videos often show him trashing merchandise displays at grocery and department stores. In a December 4 video, Hill throws two stacks of singles in the air before diving on (and toppling) a Christmas tree in a Target store (the clip has been viewed more than 3.5 million times). During a summertime trip to Manhattan, Hill dove atop a sidewalk vendor’s table, causing the victim’s merchandise to spray into the street. Hill has also recorded himself disrupting a church service, spraying graffiti, and throwing a drink in the face of a drive-thru worker at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant.

By all indications, Hill’s musical talent--which appears limited--is not the source of the stacks of cash he wields in his videos (and recently used to buy a BMW). Instead, he is making money through ads appearing on his YouTube channel, personal appearances, and, most valuably, via sponsored posts on Instagram, where Hill’s 3.9 million followers make him an influencer of sorts.

Hill, a Xanax and Percocet enthusiast, has his trademark phrase (“Whole Lotta Gang Shit”) tattooed on his back and the words “Walk By Faith Not By Sight” inked on his chest. As his online fame has grown this year, Hill has added numerous tattoos to his neck and face and began wearing a set of gold grills in his mouth.

Seen above in a quartet of mug shots, Hill’s rap sheet dates back to his juvenile years in Florida, where, he has fondly recalled, he regularly stole from retailers and engaged in bank fraud. Hill’s first adult collar came in September 2014--a month after turning 18--when he was busted for stealing clothing from a Walmart in Jacksonville. Hill ran from a sheriff’s deputy, but was tackled when he attempted to escape over a fence.

Charged with larceny and resisting an officer, Hill was subsequently convicted of theft and placed on probation. He was rearrested last year on a probation violation charge for not performing community service, missing a meeting with his probation officer, and failing to pay about $700 in fines and probation fees.

Hill was arrested in May for stealing a tray of donuts from a Dunkin’ Donuts in Miami Gardens. After hurdling the counter, Hill--who was shirtless and smoking a blunt--repeatedly exclaimed to his cameraman, “I’m the fucking savage!” Originally charged with felony burglary and theft, Hill pleaded guilty to the lesser charge and was placed on probation--the terms of which which he promptly violated. An arrest warrant issued for the Instagram star remains outstanding. “I’m wanted right now in Miami,” he recently told an interviewer. “I ain’t going back to Florida.”

Additionally, Hill is facing a misdemeanor disorderly conduct rap in connection with a July 27 incident at a Chick-fil-A in Broward County. Celebrating his one millionth Instagram follower, Hill jumped onto the restaurant’s counter, ripped off his shirt, and “smashed two milkshakes over his chest,” according to a court filing. He then “threw two more milkshakes on the floor, took his shorts off and began to slide in the milkshakes on the floor.”

In October, when cops sought to serve Hill with a criminal summons at a home in Lauderhill, a woman there said he had left town. “Currently in California,” a deputy reported.

When not denigrating Carl’s Jr. employees, Hill has found time to get arrested twice in L.A. during the past three months. While details of his September 22 bust are unavailable, Hill was nabbed in late-November on a felony receiving stolen property charge. He is free on $70,000 bail in advance of a December 21 court appearance. In a video shot upon his release from custody, Hill said that the alleged stolen property was a handgun. “On that gang shit y’all ain’t on,” he told viewers.

Hill also had a message for law enforcement: “To all the motherfucking police officers that’s looking at this shit, you’re not gonna stop me from making my money...Fuck the police.” (3 pages)