CHAPTER XVIII
OBTAINING EVIDENCE BY METHODS OF PRECISION1

A mere opinion, anyone can give; but an opinion based on accurate and intimate knowledge, if logically presented and adequately illustrated, will not only bear the fierce light that beats upon the witness-box but will be clarified and strengthened the more it is attacked. -- OSBORN

The detection of the criminal is a preventive of criminal behavior. The proof of this categorical statement is on as sure a footing as a corresponding statement in the preceding chapter in relation to punishment. If we can escape detection we may speed upon the highway or forge checks to our heart's content; no one will be the wiser and threatened punishment will be of no avail. If methods of detection are but 25 per cent effective there are three chances of escape to one of being caught and many there are who will ignore the one chance or guard against it and confide in the other three. As the chances of escape diminish fewer will take the risk. As long as self-preservation and protection is the first law of nature these propositions will require no elaboration. And what are the chances to be reckoned with in the United States may be indicated by a few figures from the recent Crime Survey of Missouri.

In St. Louis in one year the ratio of robberies to punishment therefor was 25 to 1. In Kansas City it was 28 to 1. In respect to burglaries in the former city the ratio was 25 to 1, and in the latter 118 to 1. The survey found 10,540 cases of felony. Of every 100 who committed felonies 81 escaped arrest. There were four chances of eluding capture out of every five.

In Chicago during 1926, 21,301 robberies and burglaries were committed, but within the same period only 4,129 robbery and burglary prosecutions were commenced. In other words, 80.6 per cent of the persons who committed the offenses were not caught. According to the Illinois Crime Survey the police manage to catch,

____________________
1
For an extended bibliography on the subject matter of this and the following chapter, see August Vollmer: "Bibliography on Police Organization and Administration, Criminal Identification and Investigation." Amer. Jour. Police Sci., II, 7, Jan.-Feb., 1931, 76-79.

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