The Null Device

Just-in-time crime

The street finds its own uses for social technologies, it seems: tourists in Brazil are targeted by swarm crime, where, upon emerging from their hotels, they are stripped of valuables by hordes of young children who suddenly appear and disappear just as suddenly. The children operate in fluid teams, coordinated with stolen (and thus untraceable) mobile phones by a teenaged recruiter/intermediary working for the organiser, who provides the phones and takes most of the proceeds.
If a law enforcement officer sees the crime and catches a child, the child can only talk about Neil. The mobile phone is not traceable. If the police catch Neil, he can only provide a mobile phone number. The adult allows Neill to collect the money ad jewelry, pay the kids, and then meet to pass over the loot to the adult. The adult is effectively "cut out" of the actual crime. Although some of the intermediaries like Neil or the children performing the crime may keep the money and jewelry for themselves, the adult repeats the process.
New problems for law enforcement officers to address: [a] fluidity of the crime and perpetrators, [b] spontaneous nature of the crimes, and [c] dealing with the children who commit the crime in the criminal justice system.

(via Die Puny Humans)

There are 3 comments on "Just-in-time crime":

Posted by: Ben Laden http://dev.null.org Mon Jun 2 01:37:26 2003

The Gypsies in Europe have been doing this for centuries. They swarm around tourists and the loveable little rascals grab cameras, handbags, wallets, sunglasses and anything else that isn't nailed down.

Posted by: JohnTomato www.bartcop.com Tue Jun 3 02:05:17 2003

larry niven did his take on this with the "permanent floating riot club"

still a good read.

J.T.

Posted by: dj http:// Tue Jun 3 02:19:37 2003

There's also a similar thing in Bruce Sterling's "Discharge".

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