They say crime doesn’t pay. These days, that is becoming increasingly TRUE.
In My Day… if you wanted goods, you put on your striped jersey, your little black mask (or stocking, if you preferred) took your sack with “swag” painted on it and broke into a warehouse, shop or delivery van and nicked them.
Or if you wanted to eliminate the middle-man (the “fence” – who would grass you up, when pressured by the rozzers) you added a sawn-off Purdey to your equipment, found someone with cash, then made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. (Three paras and already I’ve given away my age about ten times).
But these days, all of that is nearly pointless. Let’s start with goods. In My Day, the prime target for most thieves was electrical goods. But thanks to Far East manufacturers, even giant plasma and LCD TVs are cheap today. And those that “fell off a lorry” don’t come with that all-important guarantee, so when they go wrong – forget it.
In any case, since all shops now have fully computerised tills, which are connected to their mainframe, which handles stock purchasing, warehousing, tax, etc. – if you try filtering stolen items into legitimate sales, it’ll stand out like a crocus on a cricket pitch.
Of course, you can always sell illicit goods in markets, or through “fringe” workers to factories, pub customers and the like – but it’s nickle-and-dime stuff and the fuzz are all over that. (Now I’m going American).
Even lowly shop-lifting is a mug’s game, thanks to modern hi-tech surveillance.
Then there’s CASH. Ah, money – what could possibly go wrong with the long green? Dosh? Folding stuff? Yeah, except no-one DEALS in it any more, other than drug-dealers, money-launderers and terrorists. Even BANKS don’t carry that much. Nowadays, it’s all plastic and electronic transactions.
But let’s assume you’ve FOUND and LIBERATED some. Great – now what? Well, In My Day, if you walked into a bank with an attache case full of mazooma, they would invite you into the manager’s office and give you a whisky and a big cigar. They still do – but only to KEEP you there until the Law arrives.
Thing is, when the War On Drugs peaked in the Seventies and Eighties, banks got leaned on by governments to LEGITIMIZE cash. Then money-laundering and after 9/11, terrorism exacerbated the situation. Therefore nowadays, any amount over £1,000 has to be ACCOUNTED for. Gone are the days when money talked – now it has to EXPLAIN itself.
These days, many law enforcement agencies have the power to seize houses, cars, boats and other goodies from anybody who cannot PROVE their wealth came from legitimate sources. They don’t even need proof a crime has been committed. The target is guilty unless they can prove their innocence.
Okay, so if you can’t put your boodle in a bank – or show ostentatious wealth – what do you do? I mean, if you FOUND a suitcase with a million Pounds in twenties in it – say, from a “drop” that had gone wrong – how would you reap the benefits?
Well for a start, if you wanted to go abroad, you’d have to put it in with your luggage and trust the baggage handlers not to send it to the Moon. Put it in your carry-on and airport security would see it on the security X-ray and inform the bogies – who would confiscate it. You’d arrive at the Cayman Islands POTLESS.
But then what? Okay, you’re in a sunny country where they don’t ask questions and you have that million quid. So buy a safe and spend it a bit at a time? Hmm. Two problems. Number one – if your loot isn’t gaining interest, it’ll disappear faster than a tan in a British jail.
Think about it. If you’re twenty, your million quid will need to last you sixty years. That’s (calculator out) 16.66666666666 grand a year. Or 320 quid a week. Your tropical paradise won’t be so sunny on THAT kind of money.
And remember, that 320 a week has to pay for EVERYTHING. If you BUY a house, car, furniture and so on, the money left over will give you an even SMALLER weekly “allowance”.
Then there’s problem number two. In My Day, bank-notes stayed the same for DECADES – but no more. Now, thanks (again) to technology, counterfeiters are only a few MONTHS behind the manufactures of the genuine article.
Thus, to keep the percentage of funny money in circulation down to an acceptable level, all governments are forced to change their notes every FIVE YEARS – with little modifications every TWO. Which means that every few years, you will have to change ALL of YOUR money – or it’ll become worthless paper (cloth actually – bank-notes are made from a form of cloth. Moving on).
But since a million quid in twenties is (calculator again) FIFTY THOUSAND notes – and changing more than a few at a time would attract attention – that’s a hell of a lot of visits to shops. In fact if you do the maths, you’ll discover that if you spent all day, every day, buying small items from shops to get new dosh – there wouldn’t be enough hours IN the day.
And that’s assuming you stayed in the country the money came from, since foreign shops wouldn’t take it and even large holiday resorts have a limited number of “bureau de change” establishments. But if you DID stay in your own country – well, in England, sixteen grand a year is barely benefit level.
So what have we learned? Well, as stated at the top, these days crime certainly does NOT pay – if you’re an HONEST crook.
No, m’friend. These days, the only way to make crime pay is to be a DISHONEST one. Like Bernie Madoff. Oh sure, Bernie’s in a U.S. “correctional facility” – and after 150 years, he’ll certainly be corrected. But he got unlucky.
For every Bernie Madoff, there are a THOUSAND smugbastard businessmen who get AWAY with it. Who, every day, rob and cheat us all blind – and then collect awards for it. THEY have the secret.
I just wish I knew what it was…