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Steve Hansen My sure-fire ideas for catching crooks

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Steve Hansen

Posted: Saturday, October 8, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:31 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Last week, another suspect slipped through a police dragnet.

In some ways, law enforcement seems so outdated. You’d think they’d modernize methods of capture. For example, borrowing techniques from “psy-ops” (psychological operations) and Madison Avenue would be a start.

To begin with, most folks who commit “off-the-cuff” crimes are not very smart. If they were, they wouldn’t be robbing local merchants for chump change. They’d be getting millions in green energy loans from Congress.

Here are a few suggestions on how to use this intelligence gap to the advantage of law enforcement:

Send the suspect a letter: This is not a new trick, but it works just about every time. Most street criminals are heavily into drugs. Tell the bad guy that the state of California is now issuing licenses for medical marijuana farms. He has just won his in a lottery. No upfront money needed. Just come to 215 W. Elm St. and pick it up. “Hurry, this is a limited time offer!”

Use the media: Issue a press release that the state is offering amnesty to those who voluntarily surrender within the next two weeks. The story might say: “Once in a lifetime opportunity for thieves and robbers to avoid jail time. Simply present yourself to the nearest law enforcement station. Bring a friend and receive double the value!”

Have a small disclaimer at the bottom that reads: “Offer not valid in California.”

Announce security guards’ nights off: I don’t know why anyone hasn’t thought of this before. Have the work schedules of all security guards and swing shift officers placed in the paper. Say something to the effect of, “Due to budget cuts, no officers will be covering a specific area at a particular time.”

Of course, this would be false information. Make it clear, for example, that no one will be covering the fast-food joint at the corner of Elm and Cherokee. Then, place a stakeout team at that location and wait for the “fish” to be snagged.

Use the old mob twist: Most thieves think they are smarter than everyone else, and that their “skills” go unrecognized by higher-level criminals. Therefore, have an undercover officer pose as a mobster and put the word out that the “syndicate” is looking for “talented” people from our town.

Perhaps an ad in the paper would look something like this: “Wanted: Small-time hold-up men with proven track records to join old established business venture. References required. Good pay and benefits. Lifetime employment. Apply in person. Ask for ‘Big Tony.’”

These four suggestions would work so well that even in our area, hundreds of criminals would be captured. Unfortunately, new problems would be created. As an example, jails and prosecutors would be unable to handle the onslaught.

But I have an idea for this situation as well. Simply create more government stimulus jobs and put these newly captured folks in charge of balancing state and federal budgets. For you skeptics out there, remember: The bad guys can’t do any worse than what the politicians are doing right now. Plus, if we paid a salary of $276,000, which is the cost of each stimulus job, the crooks would never return to crime again.

After careful consideration, I know most law enforcement agencies will agree that the creative ideas expressed here are unquestionably worthwhile. If there are any departments out there that would like to hire me as a consultant, I work really cheap and can be reached at 555-1234.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and satirist.

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