Buckinghamshire CC ANPR cameras

Ian Batten igb at batten.eu.org
Wed Jan 11 12:41:10 GMT 2012

> So the disciplined kidnapper needs to ensure that any personal phones
> are switched off and that they have a number of other PAYG phones to
> use for other calls which they dispose of carefully after use and
> have only topped up with cash at places without CCTV.

As a variation on the idea "law abiding criminals" are common, I think what we might call the Moriarty Delusion is another.  To criminals who have a predilection to break one law but an utter refusal to break others, and their close relatives the criminals who are obsessed with the idea of breaking a particular law even if it makes no sense for them so to do, we can add criminals who are able to pull off crimes through their absolute adherence to a discipline that is both perfect and perfectly effective.  

Criminals that are motivated by a common political bond select on how fervent they are, not how competent they are.  If they can come up with a scheme that is not being defended against, they might be able to pull something off whilst being operationally leaky (9/11, 7/7), but that's not because they are master criminals, but because they're doing something that is new and difficult to defend against, but mostly because they don't care if they die in the process and our security systems are often built around an assumption that the opponents don't want to be caught, never mind killed.   Until the crime starts, you're just another civilian; once the crime is in progress, you're planning to be dead in fifteen minutes: a very difficult thing to defend against.

But these sorts of crimes are incredibly rare.  Most crime is carried out by people who not merely want to live, but want to make money.  Their incentive is economic.  If they could carry out a bank robbery netting 1.1x at the same risk level as a kidnapping netting 1x, they will do so: their interest is in the ransom, not the hostage-taking.   If there's one criminal, their scope is inherently limited.  If there's multiple criminals, they won't operate with military discipline, they won't trust each other, they won't be happy about their share, they won't believe what other criminals tell them thinking it's self-interest, etc, etc.  A highly-trained, perfectly-informed, totally disciplined gang of uber-criminals would be a formidable opponent; in reality, either they don't exist, or carry out crimes so subtle that they don't even appear to be crimes.

Kidnappings are a desperate crime, carried out by people who are intending to get money.  It involves lots of people, not all of them necessarily competent, and as well as needing to build a plan to avoid communications surveillance they have to agree and execute a plan that is complex in many dimensions.  They need transport, accommodation, food, money to execute the crime, weapons, a means to launder the money, a means to spend it without detection, an agreement amongst themselves as to whether they're prepared to commit murder, a means to forensically clean everything they do, etc, etc, etc.  And a team of people large enough to contain the skills, disciplined enough to use them, and small enough not to form factions and fight over the take.   Using PAYG phones is just one tiny part of their problem.


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