A Racketeer Whistleblower ©
A professional criminal was apprehended after quite a profitable operation. His arrest
cleared almost 800 well thought-out and crafted burglaries spanning a period of 1 year
over the greater area of Los Angeles County. During the many conversations subsequent to
his arrest, he made observations that would be of interest to the coordinator of any
criminal investigation. His comments not only gave insight into the modus operandi (MO) of
the dark, criminal world of burglary, theft (could be national security), but they also
pointed out weaknesses in the field techniques of law enforcement. These weaknesses are
the experienced Agents first area of review. Thus, the whistleblower's treatise on field
racketeering will be studied over the next few issues.
When it is necessary to coordinate activities relative to the crime of burglary, a
3-act protocol is set into play. The first act would be the planning, the commission of
the act, and the disposal of any stolen property. The second act would be the
investigation and the apprehension of the intruders (burglars). The third, and final act,
would be the prosecution. In the first act, you can see that there is little or nothing we
can do. The second act, of course, is "our" act. Let us then review exactly what
we can do to gather evidence, identify the perpetrator and prepare our case for court.
Almost all of the time, a case proceeds through the argument stage and ends in
judgment. Thus it is imperative to understand the criminal. As you will see, professional
criminals develop a plan of action prior to their operation. They spend many hours casing
their jobs, and figuring out what the police would do. It should be a severe blow to the
ego of the conscience police person to realize that criminals are out-thinking and
out-smarting them. The reason for this is that the criminals spend more time and effort
preparing for their jobs than many police do in preparing for theirs. For example, note
the following testimonies:
- I always dressed nice, so I wouldn't look out of place in a neighborhood. I carried a
pair of women's gloves with me and wore them at work, as they fit snug. Of course, I
always wore dark clothing at nighttime. Usually, my prowl shoes were thick soled and a
couple of sizes too big, so I wore up to three pairs of socks to fill them.
- I never carried any tools except a 3-bladed pocket knife and a small flashlight. That's
all you need. My knife had one heavy blade which was a fair pry; a medium-sized blade for
cutting screens; and a small blade for working locks.
- I had numerous stolen cars at my disposal at all times. I had a personal car and the
others were work vehicles. The Lincoln (stolen in Palm Springs) was my personal' car for
nearly a year, and I never used it on jobs. Work cars were Fords and Chevys. I kept them
out of circulation until they were off the "hot sheet," before I would use them.
I seldom changed plates on cars, as it was too much trouble. It could take 20 minutes to
change a set of plates. I did have cold plates on-hand for emergencies, for I sometimes
stole cars that had no plates. My supply of cold plates was obtained by stealing plates
and holding them for a long period of time before using them. If I could, I got them from
a vehicle where they might not be reported for a long time. I usually fixed the radio to
get police calls in the area I worked."
An outline of this "wise-guy's" testimony might look like: (1) points of
preparation, (2) tools, and (3) vehicle used. Examples of other aspects of a criminal's
protocol include: selecting the next victim, casing the victim, field shakes, casing the
police, and the flight plan. Review examples of these aspects in the sections of
I didn't care much for places like Malibu, for people might have a lot of money on
paper, but very little in "the kick." In just average, nice, residential areas,
where the people worked in the Aerospace Industry and such, you could always figure on
some cash lying around. Friday night was particularly good, and it wasn't unusual for them
to have large sums in their pads. By Monday night, however, it [the cash] was usually
depleted or gone, so I had to hit these sections on weekends. I believed in 8 hours of
work, so I would handle numerous casings. Many times I picked the streets by following a
resident to it. If he looked like the type that might have dough around the house, I just
see him home. If his house and the rest of the neighborhood looked good, I noted it and
eventually included it on the schedule.
Casing the Victim
Generally, my hours were 8/9 p.m. to day-light. If the house appeared unoccupied, I
tried the garage or basement first. If there were an extension phone, I would dial the
ring-back number and see if anyone answered. If not, I assumed the coast was clear. If it
was a warm night and windows were open, I might detect snoring. I didn't worry about
people who were steady snorers. Generally, I operated only the living area, and not the
sleeping area of a house, but I believe I could have moved the bedroom furniture of some
of those places and never awakened the people. Once inside a house, I always listened for
sleepers. I didn't enter if a dog was barking. If the dogs were asleep, however, I didn't
worry about them, but just didn't disturb them.
Casing the Area Police
Using two methods, I generally knew how many cars were working an area--by passing the
station at change-of-watch time, or by monitoring calls when a new watch was starting.
Another deal was to get acquainted with car plans and figure the approximate coverage of a
car. On nights when the car plan was small and the area large, I figured if I saw a car
once in the area I was assigned that I was safe. He wouldn't be back to that street the
rest of the watch. If I saw a car twice or two different cars, I figured they knew
something, and I got out of there very fast. I usually had a late hot sheet. They're easy
to pick up close to police stations and a lot of the boys stick them in their private
vehicles when they park on side streets near the stations. In one division, I got them out
of the trash barrel at the service station where the police cars were washed. I know the
radio codes used by most departments. Yours is different here, but I soon figured what
they meant. I sure knew that Code 6 meant the day I heard it in front of my pad. I tried
to always have a car radio tuned to get police calls, so I usually heard the answers from
control when a car was running me. It kept me acquainted with how busy the cars were, too.
As for my use of MO and other police terms, I heard them on television.
In the next issue, we will cover how the actual crimes are committed
and further study of the ABC's of preventing national
security theft to simple corporate theft.