ARTICLES

tells you how to deal with THE CRIMINALS YOU MIGHT MEET

CHIEF JAMES MACKEY May 7 1960
ARTICLES

tells you how to deal with THE CRIMINALS YOU MIGHT MEET

CHIEF JAMES MACKEY May 7 1960

tells you how to deal with THE CRIMINALS YOU MIGHT MEET

ARTICLES

CHIEF JAMES MACKEY

METROPOLITAN TORONTO POLICE

How to scare oíf a sex criminal

How to burgiarproof your home

How to act in a stick-up

How to foil pickpockets and con men

THIS YEAR. 40.000 offences against the Criminal Code will be committed in Metro Toronto. Thousands of citizens will have their lives endangered. Other thousands will have some of their property forcibly taken from them.

Crimes of violence — such as assault, kidnaping and murder — are usually sudden and unexpected and difficult to prevent. However, there's a great deal the average person can do to safeguard his property. I ast year, Metro thieves made oil with more than $10 million in money, securities, goods and automobiles. Many of the losses were unnecessary, caused by carelessness and thoughtlessness. "Break and enter" cases are the most frequent type of offence we encounter. What can you. as a private individual, do to protect yourself against it? The question is pertinent not only to city dwellers, but to persons in communities of any size.

The first important thing to remember is that an unoccupied house is an attractive target to a thief. Therefore, don't publicize your absence. When you're vacationing make sure that you stop delivery of mail. milk, bread and newspapers. By all means, have your holiday reported on the social pages— if you enjoy that sort of thing — but after you return. Criminals are avid newspaper readers. They're even interested in funeral and wedding announcements, which tip them off' that a family might be away for even a few hours. Leaving lights on in an empty house is a good idea, but use a little imagination. Have the lights distributed throughout the house, not just in the hallways. A radio, softly playing, is probably a greater deterrent to burglars than lights. If you're away a lot. a telephone-answering service might be a good investment. Many thieves check on a prospective "job” by phoning several times to make sure there's nobody at home. Perhaps the simplest and least expensive domestic burglar alarm is a watch dog. The barking of a large dog is apt to discourage even the most enterprising prowler. But make sure that your animal measures up to the job. A few months ago, thieves entered one home and stole a thousand dollars’ worth of merchandise—as well as the watch dog.

Equip your doors with stout locks and give out as few extra keys as possible. Check on the location of your milk chute. In some modern homes it's possible to slip the lock on the inside of the side door by reaching through the milk chute. Windows, particularly in the basement, should be bolted.

Even if a thief does manage to break in. there are still precautions to minimize your losses. Large sums of money, valuable furs or jewels should be left in a sturdy safe. Thieves like to grab and run. The chances are they won't spend tne time or don't have the skill to crack a safe. Better advice still — don't keep large amounts of money or valuables in your home. A frequent offender is the businessman who takes home the day's cash receipts because the banks are closed. This information sometimes reaches the thief by a dishonest— or careless—employee. A large bankroll should be placed in a night deposit box (which many banks now have) or left in an office safe which is protected by an alarm.

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SIDNEY KATZ

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The thug always asked: “Have you ever had a bullet put through ya?”

You should be able to identify your own property. It’s amazing how many people are unable to say positively that some item we've recovered belongs to them. I his need not happen. Cars, typewriters. cameras, movie projectors, electrical appliances, anil expensive watches have serial numbers. List them and put the list in a safe place.

If you have a prized possession without a serial number—such as a fur—place an unobtrusive identification mark on it in a secret place, for instance, inside the lining. Last year we recovered a mink jacket worth $2,500. The label had been removed and the buttons replaced, but the owner was sure it was hers. The thief stubbornly insisted. ‘1 bought it from a guv in a poolroom." The furrier's cutter. designer and salesman testified that this was the fur they had sold to the woman. Hut what impressed the court most was a lipstick stain on the collar. A few weeks before the theft the woman had brought in the jacket to have the stain removed. He was unable to oblige her. and it remained on the fur to clinch her claim of ownership.

I'm often asked. "Should I keep a gun in the house for my protection?” I generally advise against it. Cat burglars and sneak thieves are generally unarmed. If you suddenly pull a gun on them in the dark, there may be an accident and somebody—perhaps you—might be killed or seriously injured. I’m against private citizens having guns, too, because many of them, sooner or later, end up in the possession of criminals. Too many people leave their weapons in unlocked bureau drawers. In a single week last February three shotguns and six rifles were stolen from a house in the Kingsway district. A machine gun and two revolvers were taken from a home in Scarborough. At about the same time, forty-eight revolvers and automatic pistols were stolen from a sporting-goods warehouse. It was no coincidence that after these thefts there were thirteen holdups in as many days. I have no quarrel with sportsmen who keep shotguns and rifles for hunting but. with rare exception, there's little justification for anyone except a police or security officer to possess small arms. In these cases, the weapons should be kept, under lock, in a safe or strongbox.

To merchants who store valuable merchandise on their premises, we recommend an electronic burglar alarm system. However, any attempt to economize on the installation may be ruinous. I he modern crook makes it his business to know the weak spots in the merchant's defense. I he strongroom should be completely "bugged" at all doors, windows, walls, floor and ceiling. In the recent Toronto Art Gallery million-dollar theft, thieves entered through the single wall that was not wired. One furrier had his strongroom "bugged," except for the thick concrete floor. Standing on ladders in the room below, thieves drilled in and stole furs worth $40.()()(). A jeweler had his walk-in steel vault protected by alarm wires, except for one outside wall which bordered on an alley. A crew of energetic hoodlums chiseled away a three-foot section of the stone wall, cut through the steel and made off with rings, watches, and precious stones worth a king's ransom.

What should the citizen do when confronted with tin entirely different kind of crook — the armed holdup man? If you find yourself suddenly staring into the barrel of a gun. my first bit of advice is "Stay calm! " Unless a human life is in immediate danger, the situation doesn't call for heroics. Do exactly as the gunman commands. Remember—the atmosphere is tense and edgy and everybody's excited. If you make a threatening move, you're inviting the robber to pull the trigger and somebody — probably the wrong person — may be killed. A few years ago. a bank manager fired at a thug and shot one of his own clerks. In a drugstore holdup, the proprietor reached for his gun after the robber left. It went off. pierced the show window, and wounded a woman outside, who was waiting for a streetcar.

There's one important thing you can do: carefully observe the criminal, so police will know who to look for. The smallest detail is important. Look for scars. One robber wore a silk stocking over his head, it didn't cover a distinctive L-shaped scar on his neck and this led to his arrest. We were able to catch another criminal because a storekeeper noticed he had a letter tattooed on each finger of his right hand, which spelled out E-L-S-I-E.

Listen closely to the gunman's voice and accent. Our investigation is greatly simplified If we can narrow down the suspect's national origin. Phraseology is revealing. A bank teller reported that the gunman's opening question was. "Have you ever had a bullet put through ya?" This, along with his physical description, gave us a pretty good idea who he was: a hardened gunman who customarily pul the same question to his victims.

Try to study the gun being pointed at you even though, like most people, you probably don’t know very much about weapons. Is it a revolver, automatic pistol. rifle, shotgun or machine gun? How long is the barrel? Is it finished in black, nickel or some other material or color? Does it have distinctive ornamentation? This information not only helps link a crime to a particular criminal but sometimes it enables us to compile an inventory of the weapons he has. Note the objects the gunman touches. And don't handle them after. You might spoil the prints. Even a piece of notepaper will yield a usable print a month later if it hasn't been touched by too many people.

If the situation arises where you have a criminal covered with a gun and he can reach his weapon, proceed with caution. Have him stand facing a wall, with his hands over his head, and disarm him. Then order him to lie on his stomach while you phone for the police. Sometimes robbers bind up their victims. If your wrists are being tied, keep your hands as fully cupped as possible, so you'll have wriggling room later on. When the thugs leave, go to the telephone and dial the operator. She'll put you directly through to police headquarters and we'll be there in a few minutes. If vour mouth is gagged, make as much noise as you can. by whatever means, you can. in front of the phone. Operators instinctively know when somebody’s in trouble.

It helps us if you can describe the criminal's getaway car. A supermarket clerk was able to tell us that a suspect drove away in a grey Chevrolet, with an aerial on the right front fender and a sticker of a fireman on the rear window. A patrolman recognized the car within hours. Cracked windows. crumpled fenders and window emblems are all good clues. One storekeeper cautiously followed a robber to a laneway three blocks away and watched him mount a motorcycle. We knew, from previous reports of the motorcycle, that the man had probably pulled three other holdups. Of course, the best thing to do is to jot down the license number — if you can get close enough. This is a wise precaution if you have the slightest reason to be suspicious of any driver. Not long ago, a salesman

waiting for a friend outside a bank noticed a green car pass the bank five times. He wrote the license number on the inside of a matchbook cover. Next day, as he approached the bank to make a deposit. he noticed the same car quickly pulling away. When he learned the bank had been robbed, he handed the number over to one of our officers — a step which led to the swift arrest of two robbers.

We are sometimes able to arrest holdup men days and even weeks after the crime because of leads provided by observant persons. Landladies are sometimes

helpful. One Vornan was suspicious of a man to whom she rented a room. When he left the house, she discovered an automatic pistol and several bullets — a fact she reported to us. We established that this man was wanted for a couple of bank robberies the previous month. Once, the superintendent of an apartment house phoned us to complain about the noise coming from a second-floor suite. He told us that he often wondered about this particular tenant, who "wears expensive clothes, drives a big car, yet he never seems to work.” When our detectives en-

tered the apartment, they immediately recognized the man as a safecracker we had been seeking for questioning for several weeks. And the noise? He had a powerful electric drill in his hands and he was practising on a steel safe door.

Before leaving the subject of armed holdups, I want to mention, a few precautions which might cut down losses. We're surprised, for example, by firms who allow unescorted young girls to go to and from banks carrying large sums. Until recently, a car dealer used to send his stenographer to the bank, three miles

away, with deposits as high as $50,000, Another firm regularly had its assistant bookkeeper go to the bank every Friday morning at ten, and return with his $7,500 payroll. This is looking for trouble. Large amounts of money should be carried by two persons — or by armed security officers. Banks'can cut their losses by ordering their tellers not to keep large amounts of cash in their drawers. Metro Toronto banks have co-operated with us in this, and the average bank robbery here now involves less than $2,000. Another helpful measure taken by banks are the introduction of large picture windows at street level. The holdup man knows that he must now operate in full view of the passing public outside.

I'd like to say a few words about protecting yourself against pickpockets (or "dips,” as we call them). More people are apt to encounter this form of theft than an armed holdup. When you’re in a crowd, keep your wits about you. The most elementary precaution is not to carry large amounts of cash with you. You’d be surprised by the number of people who have been relieved of large bankrolls because, as one woman sadly explained, "I kept the money on me because I didn’t think it would be safe in the bank.” The safest place for a man to carry his wallet is in "the gambler’s pocket” — the left shirt - front pocket. The wallet fits snugly against the skin and you can feel if it’s being moved. Coat and trouser pockets are as easy as apple pie for the competent "dip.” I suggest that women carry "clutch”-type purses, as opposed to the ones with long handles, because the latter type is so far from the body the "dip" can unbutton or unzip it, remove the wallet and be a long way off before the victim discovers her loss. Women should never put purses down on a store counter. The “dip” moves over to it. makes his strike and is away like a flash. Never leave your purse on an empty seat beside you in a movie house.

You should suspect any person jostling you unnecessarily from the rear, or a person in front of you who is unnecessarily impeding your progress. When bumped, make a show of feeling your pockets for your wallet and look sharply behind you. This will be enough to frighten off a "dip.” He’s anxious not to attract attention. If you believe that your wallet has been lifted on a streetcar, tell the streetcar operator. He’ll keep his car going, with the doors locked, until he comes to a corner where there’s a police officer. Finally, if you’re planning to have several drinks in a busy spot, leave your bankroll at home. The easiest mark in the world for a “dip” is the person who’s slightly befuddled. We had one fellow who went out to celebrate the closing of a real-estate deal with $1,000 of the down payment in his pocket. It disappeared some time after the fifth drink.

Criminals who specialize in fraud ("con men") or forgery are actually a greater threat than the average "dip" because they’re out after larger stakes. The “con man" is so skilled that he sometimes succeeds in fleecing even the experienced businessman. Be wary of strangers you meet in bus, railway and air terminals or hotel lobbies, who appear to be overanxious to form a close friendship. Be especially on your guard if they offer you a partnership in a get-rich-quick scheme or a deal of doubtful honesty. The adage of comedian W. C. Fields, "You can't cheat an honest man,” still holds. A typical fraud operation that came to our attention concerned a retired druggist who was visiting Toronto for a week.

The druggist was sitting in the lobby of his hotel one evening, when a well-

dressed stranger sat down beside him. They struck up a conversation and later adjourned to the hotel bar for a drink. The druggist learned that his affable friend was an Australian, en route to Chicago to settle his late brother's estate. Before parting they arranged to have breakfast at a nearby restaurant. As they were having their bacon and eggs next morning, the stranger suddenly remembered that he had to make a phone call and adjourned to a nearby phone booth. A moment later he was back with a wallet in his hand. "I found this on the floor of the booth,” he explained. The most impressive item in the wallet was a cheque for $60,000 made out to a certain “Mr. Brown,” whose address happened to be the hotel next door.

The two men called on “Mr. Brown” —the con man s accomplice—who was most grateful for the return of the wallet. “I’m using this $60,000 to pay for a shipment of goods arriving by boat tomorrow from overseas,” he said. "I've got buyers all lined up and I'm going to clear a $50,000 profit in the next few days.” Brown went on to explain that, as a reward, he w'as going to give each of the two men a $5,000 share in his shipment. "But if you really want to make a killing.” he said. "I'll sell you each another $5,000 chunk.” Brown produced letters and papers giving details of the goods which were arriving.

His “friends” checked out

After considerable discussion, the stranger said that he was satisfied the investment was a wise one and went off (he said) to wire his lawyer in Chicago to forward him $5,000. Caught up in the general enthusiasm, the druggist promptly phoned his bank for a similar amount. When he arrived that afternoon, he turned it over to Mr. Brown, thanking him profusely. The three men then arranged to meet for dinner that evening. When the druggist's “friends” failed to keep the appointment, he rang their room. He now learned that they had checked out. leaving no forwarding address. In essence, this is the basic pattern of many "con” operations.

The fact that many people will sign their name to practically anything makes things relatively easy for the shady operator. I'm thinking now of some of the advertisements which appear under "Business Opportunities.” One young man replied to an ad which promised to pay $100 a week for spare-time work. According to the advertiser, the job consisted of visiting stores and making sure that the shelves were well stocked with his products. "Of course," he added, “since these stores are your exclusive franchise, we expect to be paid $950." He produced a one-page contract, which the young man quickly signed. Had he been a little more cautious, he would have noticed that the document was really page two of a twopage contract. When he did examine the complete document, he realized that his so-called franchise was almost worthless, yet he was still legally bound to pay the manufacturer’s agent $950. After signing contracts with a dozen or so people, the agent moves his office location and advertises under a different name. Don’t sign a document yon haven't read thoroughly. If there’s a large amount of money involved, let a lawyer handle it for you.

Carelessness in writing out and cashing cheques costs the citizens of Metro Toronto a small fortune each year. When making out a cheque, draw a heavy line before and after the amount so that it will be difficult to make changes without

detection. Don't cash a cheque for a stranger, unless he has properly identified himself. Sometimes a cheque artist will present a worthless cheque to a merchant, explaining. “I work at Acme United Rubber Company and their phone number is Walnut 4 —." The merchant dials the number and a voice answers, “Acme United Rubber Company.” The voice assures the merchant that the cheque-writer is a responsible employee. What the merchant doesn't know is that the person on the other end of the line is an accomplice, speaking from a nearby phone booth.

Always check phone numbers given in connection with references, either in the telephone book or with the phone company.

I'd like to say a few things about preventing an entirely different kind of crime — the sex offense. It's a sad fact that in every large city there are sex deviates, who loiter near schoolyards and playgrounds. We patrol these areas carefully but. unfortunately, we can't be everywhere at once. I strongly suggest that parents impress upon their youngsters a few elementary safety rules: They should

not go for a walk or drive with a stranger. They should not accept presents of money or candy from a stranger. Any such offer should be immediately reported to the teacher or parent. If the stranger has a car. an effort should be made to get his license number. Parents should give this advice in such a way as not to frighten their children. At the same time, they should leave no doubt that a real danger exists. Looking back over our records, I’m certain that many shocking sex crimes might have been avoided had. the parents involved given their children the proper

training and guidance early in life.

Women returning home late at night are also potential victims of a certain kind of sex offender. As a matter of fact, provincial labor laws require that women employed on late shifts be escorted home. Women who must stay out late at night should arrange transportation home. Most cab drivers will wait until you're safely inside your door. If you're on a main street and a man persists in following you. gel to a phone in the nearest restaurant or store and call us. A cruiser will be at the door in a few minutes. If you're caught on a dark street, make for the first lighted house and ask the people if you can use their phone. Should you actually be attacked, scream long and loudly. A scream is a woman's most effective weapon. Kick your assailant’s stomach with your knee and his instep with the heel of your shoe. It's also a good idea to carry in your bag woman's traditional defense weapon — a long, strong hat pin.

Always remember that the telephone is one of the most valuable allies you — and the police department — can have. Every citizen should have the phone number of the police department noted beside the telephone. If you see or hear anything suspicious, need help or information, call your police department immediately.