Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Private Eye's View: Crime in the U.S. Is Big Business

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Private Eye's View: Crime in the U.S. Is Big Business

Article excerpt

"I hate this `crime doesn't pay' stuff. Crime in the United States is perhaps the biggest business in the world today."

Peter Kirk

The trickiest problem in preventing crime is that most criminals just don't look like criminals. Most criminals look like your co-workers. In fact, maybe you should keep an eye on those co-workers of yours.

What got me thinking about criminal co-workers was meeting Leroy Cook, who runs a private investigator referral service, the "Investigators Anywhere Resource Line" (1-800-338-3463). He asked me to judge a contest wherein private detectives wrote about their businesses. That's how I ended up swapping stories with private eyes.

One of them, William Elliott of Albuquerque, N.M., offered me this rule of thumb: One-third of people are completely honest; one-third are mostly honest but will change sides if a good opportunity arises; and the final third are full-blooded weasels.

But smart creeps don't look like creeps. Elliott told me of the company that hired a "sweet" young woman for its accounting department. They liked her so much, she was already working when the personnel department called in Elliott's company for a routine background check. Turns out, she had murdered her boyfriend's wife and child.

There aren't, of course, enough released murderers applying for work to keep private eyes in business. But there are plenty of grubby little criminals to go around.

Here's one example of a common retail scam, explained to me by Robert Dudash of Omaha, Neb.: A woman working in a clothing store has a friend bring six expensive dresses to her cash register. The employee rings up only four of the six. The friend later returns the four dresses; the employee and her confederate each keep one of the extra two.

Casey Major, of South Bend, Ind., told me he recently used a hidden camera to catch a crooked convenience-store clerk. …

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