When The Cops Get Over – From Guest Blogger Janethgrt

The Con


My third guest blogger is janethgrt, from the west coast.  She and her husband are both avid readers of the Zola System.  She was quite taken with Susan Crain Bakos’ open blog (if you haven’t read her blog SexyPrime, I need to know what is taking you so long), published here as Gentrification Gone Awry, and her piece in the New York Press about her mugging in Harlem.


Both women ended up having tremendous problems with getting the local police force to help them apprehend the people who committed the crimes and were, at points, ignored by the very detectives assigned to investigate the mugging/theft. 


I have friends who are NYPD detectives, beat cops and officers.  They do a fantastic job keeping the peace in a nearly impossible situation.  I assume peace officers in other jurisdictions operate with the same mixture of upholding the law, honor and humor as my NYPD friends.  However, both of these cases raise a troubling question: the tools were available or the perpetrator was known and the detectives did nothing to effect an arrest.


It makes me wonder if this was pure laziness or are we the tax payers being conned into believing the ‘little’ crimes committed against us will be investigated thoroughly. 


A troubling question in tough times.


One evening last month, my husband took our six-year old son to his little pal’s birthday party at an indoor play-place (a local, non-franchised, knock-off of larger commercial chains). The next morning, while our son was sorting through his SWAG of gummy snakes and fake tattoos, my husband – who was about to depart on an out-of-town trip for two weeks – realized he could not find his wallet. After turning our house upside down and calling the play-place in search of the lost wallet (they didn’t have it in lost and found) we called the credit card company and bank. They confirmed fraudulent charges at a department store, fast food restaurants, and two different gas stations within a mile radius of the party location. We immediately canceled his two credit cards and reported it to the police. We called the places where the thieves had made charges and were relieved to know they had video surveillance.


My husband canceled his flight (which turned into a three day delay), and we set about getting various new identification items needed for his trip: driver’s license and miscellaneous other I.D. cards verifying his status to perform his job. I canceled my client roster for the next morning to drive him to various facilities. About two weeks later we heard from a local detective. He reported the perpetrators “appeared to be employees of” the children’s play-place based on footage from the department store (I wondered if they actually went in wearing their uniforms?). We asked if he wanted the information about all the businesses where they had charged things and were rebuffed by a comment that aside from the department store, “those places don’t keep videos”.


The detective asked if our bank and Credit Card Company were holding us responsible for the fraudulent charges. We said no. He then said unless the fraudulent charges exceeded ten thousand dollars, the bank and Credit Card Company would not pursue criminal action. My husband offered to pay the amount (about $400) and file charges as a private citizen. The detective then commented that the department store video footage was “blurry” and implied it would not be useful in identifying the thieves. From that point, we inferred that the local police had dismissed our case.


Granted, I have no law enforcement background, but it seems to me that if the footage from the department store was clear enough to possibly identify the thieves as employees of a certain business, it would not be hard to look into work schedules, other videotapes, and pursue things from there.  


I respect that police are overworked and a crime in which no “real money” was stolen probably seems trivial. Evidently our time, lost wages, costs to re-issue various items, enroll in identity theft protection, etc. were also trivial. No, this did not send us into financial distress – we are fortunate in that regard – but what concerns and angers me is the over-arching message. The people who stole my husband’s wallet (perhaps while he was a patron at their very place of employment – a play place for children!); took $60 in cash; and committed six counts of identity fraud will walk away with absolutely no consequences. The average person with a minor traffic violation or unpaid parking ticket is held more accountable for his/her actions. What these people learned from the law enforcement system is that theft is OK as long as it’s not too much. A truly pathetic crime-deterrent (I’m sure those people will NEVER consider doing it again) and operant conditioning at its worst!


Have you ever had an instance when you were conned, reported it to the police and they did nothing about it?  Write it up and send it to me.  I will post it.



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