Amateur and Professional Thieves

Professional thieves are practiced, experienced, and well planned.  Amateur thieves lack experience, and even when they plan, due to their lack of ability, are likely to fail.  An example of amateur thieves is the Watergate Burglars.  They were hired by ex-FBI agent G. Gordon Libby who worked for Richard M. Nixon’s committee to re-elect the President to break into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate Hotel and find out secrets the Democrats had on the President’s re-election campaign.  They were discovered when a security guard found a latch taped open, and removed it.  The burglars re-taped the latch.  When the security guard found the tape a second time, he looked more closely, and saw the amateur flashlights dancing about inside of the room.  He called police, and the burglars were arrested.  One of the burglars admitted he had worked for the CIA.  Another had a cashier’s check that would be traced back to the Committee. This comedy of errors led to the eventual resignation of President Nixon, and the imprisonment of G. Gordon Liddy (, 2017). An example of professional thieves is the Lufthansa heist of 1978.  An insider revealed that the airline had millions in untraceable bills and jewelry in a vault.  Six men in ski masks, associated with the Bonanno crime family, pulled off the robbery.  They had maps of the building, and tape to bind and gag the employees.  They escaped with $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewelry, “the largest cash theft that had been carried out in the U.S.” (Engel, 2014, para. 5).

Motor Vehicle Thefts

According to the Insurance Information Institute (2016) “707,758 motor vehicles were reported stolen in the United States in 2015, up 3.1% from 2014…” (para.1). The 10 cities with the highest rate of theft were all in California. The region with the lowest thefts was the Midwest (Insurance Information Institute, 2016).


According to the Adler, Mueller & Laufer (2013) the five types of fraud are obtaining property by false pretenses, confidence schemes, check forgery, credit card crimes, and insurance fraud.  In my personal experience, the most difficult of these to detect is credit card fraud- because so few merchants are willing to report it.  I have talked to merchants who have had customers attempt to use multiple cards that were “declined” when processed.  Often, these criminals will ask the clerk to type in the number on the sales terminal; they know this will temporarily bypass the security checks on the card, and afford them enough to time to complete the transaction and vanished before the fraud is discovered.  The store clerks also know that is what is happening, but they will type in the number anyway, because the store’s corporate policy is to serve the customer- in this case the thief.  If the sale actually turns out to be legitimate, there is a legitimate profit.  If it was fraudulent- well, the store is insured against shrinkage, and if the rates go up, just pass that cost on to the customer.  When the banks, insurance companies and retailers become serious about credit fraud, it will vanish.

Computer Crimes

Computer crimes include network break-ins, industrial espionage, software piracy, online pornography, and mail bombings (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, 2013).  They represent a special problem for law enforcement because “offenders can quietly commit them from any computer”, and “most law enforcement agencies are not equipped to deal with the phenomenon” (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, 2013, p. 305).


According to Adler, Mueller & Laufer, (2013) “The common law defined burglary as:

The breaking

And entering

Of the dwelling house

Of another person

At night

With the intention to commit a felony or larceny

inside (p. 305).


The UCR defines burglary as the “unlawful entry into a structure (criminal trespass) to commit a felony or theft” (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, 2013, p. 306).   According to the FBI, “In 2015, there were an estimated 1,579,527 burglaries, a decrease of 7.8 percent when compared with 2014 data. The number of burglaries decreased 27.7 percent when compared with 2011 data and was down 28.0 percent when compared with the 2006 estimate” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017, para. 2).  Even though burglaries committed against structures have fallen, I suspect burglaries of motor vehicles have increased.  These crimes are easy to commit, often go unreported, and the UCR keeps no record of them.  Usually, all the burglar need do is pull on car doors- they will soon find one that has been left unlocked.  In particular, Chevrolet and GM sport utilities have a flaw on the cargo window that makes them susceptible to thefts.  “Replacement seats are in demand by SUV owners whose row of seats has been damaged or worn out. Detectives say the crooks can get about $1,000 for the seats on sites like Craigslist or in a salvage yard – a sizable payoff for 40 seconds of work” (Riley, 2012, para. 5).

The Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd Frank Acts

According to Investopedia (2015):

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) (Links to an external site.) was enacted to protect investors from potential fraudulent accounting by companies, whereas the Dodd-Frank Act was passed to enact significant financial reform to reduce risk in certain areas of the economy. SOX was passed by Congress in response to large corporate accounting scandals at Enron, Tyco International and WorldCom that were uncovered in the early 2000s. Dodd-Frank was enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis. (para. 1)

In short, SOX was created to protect individuals (investors); Dodd-Frank was created to protect the system.  Both laws add economic protections after large scale scandals in the financial sector.  Even so, according to Van Der Weide (2012), problems with these regulatory efforts include regulating groups of institutions who individually may not be important, but combined act as a singular SIFI (Systemically Important Financial Institution), fitting the regulations to specific firms, calibrating subsidy acquisition so that it does not create a “too big to fail” image, integrating the rules and various people working on the rules, and applying these rules to foreign banks.  Hansberry (2012) points out that Dodd-Frank provides protection for whistleblowers, and even up to a 30% reward of any fines levied against firms reported for wrongdoing.  But what if the whistleblower was complicit in that wrongdoing, before deciding to report it?

White Collar Crimes

Adler, Mueller & Laufer (2013) list several offenses classified as ‘white collar crimes”.  Five of these are security related crimes, bankruptcy fraud, government fraud, consumer fraud, and Insurance fraud.

Security related fraud includes churning (frequent trades to generate large commissions), insider trading (unethically using privileged information, stock manipulation (when traders give misleading information about stocks for a profit), and boiler rooms (when traders dupe clients into making poor investments). Bankruptcy fraud is when a person or corporation takes advantage of loop holes in the bankruptcy laws. Government Fraud includes collusion, kickbacks, unauthorized or excessive expenditures, the filing of false claims and nepotism. A recent example is the trial of Dallas Commissioner John Wiley Price, who has been accused of extorting money from contractors, portions of which he locked in a safe in his office.  Consumer fraud is duping consumer into spending money through “deceit or misrepresentation of a material fact” (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, 2013, p. 319).  Insurance Fraud can be committed by policy holders by making false claims, or over inflating their claims.  Likewise, insurance companies can defraud customers by selling policies without any intent to pay in the event of a covered loss.

Environmental Crime

Environmental crimes include:

“…the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or better known as Superfund), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA)” (Shelley, Chiricos & Gertz, 2011, p, 307).

Environmental crime has evolved into a political issue.  Liberals typically want strict enforcement, while conservatives view environmental regulations and organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency as government over reach.  For example, the President recently ordered Scott Pruitt, the current director of the EPA (he is currently suing the department he now heads) to roll back the “Waters of the United States” rule (, Davenport, 2017, para. 2), causing liberal outrage, even though it will take several years to significantly change the rule.

Regardless of which political party is in power, prosecution of environmental crimes has been traditionally poor, because “inadequate funding, lack of enforcement, and prosecutorial discretion” (Shelley, Chiricos & Gertz, 2011, p, 308).  Occasionally, an environmental crisis will command public attention, like the lead contamination of the water supply in Flint, Michigan.  Government officials were prosecuted, but for “false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses”, not for environmental crimes (Dennis, 2016, para, 6).


Adler, F., Mueller, G. O., & Laufer, W. S. (2013). Criminology. New York: McGraw Hill.

Davenport, C. (2017, February 28). Trump plans to begin E.P.A. rollback with order on clean water. Retrieved from The New York Times:

Dennis, B. (2016, December 20). Four more officials charged with felonies in Flint water crisis. Retrieved from The Washington Post:

Engel, P. (2013, January 23). Here’s the insane story of the 1978 airport heist that just got a suspected mobster arrested. Retrieved from

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2017, April 8). 2015 Crime in the United States. Retrieved from FBI:UCR:

Insurance Information Institute. (2016, November). Auto Theft. Retrieved from Insurance Information Institute:

Investopedia. (2015, May 18). What is the difference between the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Act? Retrieved from Investopedia:

Janberry, H. L. (2012). In spite of its good intentions, the Dodd-Frank Act has created an FCPA monster. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminality, 195-226.

Riley, D. (2012, October 19). Thieves Across Country Stealing SUV Seats. Retrieved from ABC News:

Shelley, T. O., Chiricos, T., & Gertz, M. (2011). What about the environment? Assessing the perceived seriousness of environmental crime. International Journal of Comparitive and Applied Criminal Justice, 307-325.

Van der Weide, M. (2012). Implementing Dodd–Frank: identifying and mitigating systemic risk. Economic Perspective (36) 3, 108-112. (2017, 04 07). Watergate Chronology. Retrieved from


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YesterdayApr 11 at 7:36pm

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1.According to some criminologists, amateur and professional thieves differ considerably. Compare and contrast these two types of thieves. Find an recent case for each type and discuss.  It can be anywhere in world, but has to be real (not in movie).

– Amateur thieves can best be described as normal people who tend to steal in a moment of need such as the need to pay rent or a gambling debt (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013). Amateur thieves live predictable lives; they work, go to school, and have friends. There impulse to steal is somewhat of a pleasure rather than a constant lifestyle. Professional thieves are those that make a career from stealing regardless of the risk involved. These types of thief’s study and perfect their stealing skills and is the only way they make their money. A case of amateur thieves I found took place in 1964 but was recently revisited in 2014 by a writer. The three men that committed the act were young and not very skilled in the manner they took the gems and how they reacted afterwards. These guys got caught simply by spending money like crazy and being noticed by the owner of the hotel they were staying in. This case proves that as amateurs they were not concise in the way they went about committing the crime and eventually got caught. A case that I found referencing professional thieves took place in Florida. This theft case was a big operation involving women from Eastern Europe stealing from high-end stores. These thefts had planned the way they stole items from the store, thus making them professional thieves. They managed to steal thousands of dollars and took them back to resale. The fact that they pre-meditated on the method they would perform their stealing clearly defines them as professional thieves.

2. Discuss what research on motor vehicle theft reveals.  Is this type of crime on the rise?  If yes, where is it the most?  Where is it the least?  Or is there no change?

– Research on motor vehicle theft has revealed that young kids and professional adult thieves are both responsible for the rise in motor vehicle theft cases. According to Adler, Mueller & Laufer (2013), young car thieves simply steal vehicles either for joy riding or for racing. It is noted that car theft rises in the summer months when the kids are out of school and have nothing better to do. The most affected area for care thefts is in Modesto, CA while the city of Yakima, WA reports the lowest thefts of motor vehicles.

3. Define fraud and then discuss five types of fraud.  Which one do you believe would be the most difficult to detect and why?

– Merriam-Webster best defines fraud as an act of deceiving or misrepresenting. Fraud leads to the attainment of property through deceiving or cheating someone out of their property. The five types of fraud listed in our text are: check forgery, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, confidence game and obtaining property by false pretenses. In my opinion, obtaining property by false pretenses and confidence games would be difficult to detect. These two types of fraud are intertwined with each other so it makes sense why both schemes would be hard to notice if one were being setup in either situation. The fact that both types of frauds involve scenarios where you don’t know the people involved or have a trace to them, they can disappear after committing fraudulent activity. Check forgery, credit card, and insurance fraud I feel are a little easier to detect and recover from since there will be some kind of paper or record trace.

4. Discuss the three main categories of computer crime and the problem these high-tech crimes pose to law enforcement agencies.

– One category of computer crimes involves the computer being used as storage or as a communication device where information is typically stored, created, manipulated, and communicated electronically (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 299). Another is the fact that computers can be used as an instrument or a tool of crime. Thus, creating counterfeit money or official documents as well as potential distribution of child pornography, confidence schemes, or illegal gambling on the internet (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 299). Finally, computers can be used as a weapon to commit attacks on the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 299). This information can be stolen along with theft of services and damage to the computer system. In this last category of crime one can relate the outbreak of viruses and other siege attacks to computer crimes. These types of high-tech crimes pose a threat to law enforcement agencies because most are not skilled or trained in computer or internet classes. The fact that these types of crimes can be committed from almost anywhere that a computer is available also makes it difficult to catch and trace back who is responsible for the crime. Technology changes rapidly, leaving some individuals clueless as to what or how to solve a computer crime. The best practice for law enforcement to handle these types of crimes would be to offer constant training on computers, computer crimes, and internet classes.

  1. Explain the differences in the common-law definition of burglary and the definition currently used today. Then discuss what the research on burglary reveals.

– Per Adler, Mueller, & Laufer (2013) the common-law definition of burglary is ‘the breaking and entering of the dwelling house of another person at night with the intention to commit a felony or larceny inside.’ This definition was simple and to the point, stating that it was not a burglary unless it took place at night and there was an intention to commit a felony or larceny once inside the dwelling. The recent definition of burglary by the UCR is defined as the unlawful entry into a structure (criminal trespass) to commit a felony or theft; not requiring the use of force to gain entry (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 306). Research on burglary has revealed that it has declined over the last decade. Researchers are trying to study and figure out the reason behind burglary. For instance, researchers are wanting to see if there is any difference between burglars and the type of offenses they commit.

6. Compare and contrast the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. What do both laws accomplish? How do they help, and how might they hurt?

– Both the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act serve to protect against white-collar crime. The acts are also in place to help catch the wrongdoers while at the same time protecting those who share interest in the companies. Both have created systemic approaches of auditing and accountability within top firms. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 even goes as far as increasing penalties for corporate wrongdoing (Adler, Mueller, Laufer, 2013, p. 312) in hopes that CEO’s and chiefs stay truthful and fair on behalf of their companies. I believe both acts help to account for the money being used and spent in these top high-dollar organizations, and to make sure that no fraud is being manipulated by the corporates’ leaders. I do not believe they are hurting anything, from a perspective of a CEO or chief they may feel as if the acts are intruding but rest assured it keeps their work legitimate.

7. The text discusses eight categories of white-collar offenses committed by individuals. Discuss five of these. Find one historical case pertaining to one of your five white collar offenses.

– Tax Fraud is the act of willfully evading or defeating a tax, not paying a tax, or filing fraudulent tax returns. This type of fraud happens more often than we think and especially in large corporations or people with high incomes. This type of fraud involves people faking forms, shifting funds, and keeping two sets of books; one to mislead the IRS and the other to reflect actual losses and profits (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 320).

Insurance Fraud according to our text has many different varieties. Those included are policy holders defraud insurance companies, insurers defrauding the public, management defrauding the public and third parties defraud insurers (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 319). This type of fraud can involve people falsely claiming losses to their vehicles or property in exchange for monetary gain. A perfect example was mentioned in the text, is when a vehicle has been damaged and is taken to get estimates at a repair shop, often insured vehicles will have higher estimates than those who were not insured. Basically, repair shops will exaggerate on the repair estimates to get more money from the insurance company.

Consumer Fraud is probably one of the largest ways to defraud a lot of people at once in various ways. Consumers are defrauded with deceptive advertising, telemarketing schemes, home-improvement fraud, and business opportunity fraud. In these cases, consumers are promised an outcome and just get played for their money or input on achieving the promised-end result. Typically, consumers are investing large sums of money for nothing to show for it.

Bankruptcy Fraud is common for large corporations and is the type of scam that is designed to take advantage of loopholes in the bankruptcy laws (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 316). Major companies can claim a total loss or a significant loss in their profits and file for bankruptcy so that their debts are forgiven. There are various examples of bankruptcy fraud listed in the textbook. What I found for them to all have in common was the fact that they cheated on the amount of money they claimed to have and that amount they lost to gain from the same profits. The FBI has estimated that 10% of all bankruptcy cases are fraudulent (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 316).

Bribery, corruption, and political fraud has affected all sorts of municipal, state, and government officials. Bribery involves cases such as mayors of cities attempting to win favor by bribing the public. Political figures bribe companies to invest in them and make their campaign bigger. Corruption can happen pretty much anywhere. For instance, corruption in police has become a more prominent issue today because law enforcement personnel are biased and sometimes taking matters into their own hands which is falling away from what the policies and procedures commands them to do.

**One of the largest cases of bankruptcy in history, was the case of the Lehman Brothers who were $619 billion in debt despite their $639 billion in assets. The major reason this bank went down under was the fact that they acquired mortgage lenders to work with that did not fully complete their processes of lending money. In other words, loans made to borrowers where not made with full documentation (Investopedia). Those that were loaned money were not paying it back as they should be. The fact that documents were not legitimate in explaining the expectations made it difficult for the bank to go back and collect money. The Lehman’s chief financial officer stated that the risks posed by rising home delinquencies were well contained and would not have any impact on the firm’s earnings. In result this bank crashed and eventually did not make any profit back from the money borrowed.

  1. Discuss the issue of environmental crime. Explain why it is so difficult to enforce legislation preventing environmental crime.

– Environmental crime is an issue that is difficult to define in terms of how to prevent it and to what extent is a certain act harming the environment. Today, the emission of noxious fumes in the air and the discharge of pollutants into the water have only been regarded as common law nuisances at the level of misdemeanors, resulting in a small fine (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2013, p. 332). Aside from only being able to assess small fines, it is sort of difficult to keep up with all the plants and their methods of working. The government ties to enforce federal laws and agencies will oversee plants to protect the environment but it does not guarantee that it can prevent environmental crime. Enforcing legislation on this type of crime is nearly impossible because one cannot know how much of one thing is harmful to the public. In an example given in our text, the spill of oil by Exxon Valdez was an inevitable event that really would have no method or law that could have prevented it. There are laws and regulations to enforce safety procedures but sometimes there are things that just cannot be prevented with a simple law.


Sears, D. (February 25, 2014). How Three Amateur Jewel Thieves Made Off With New York’s Most Precious Gems. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Clarkson, B. & Sentinel, S. (April 12, 2013). Shoplifting an organized crime for professional thieves. Sun Sentinel. Retrieved from

Investopedia Staff. (February 16, 2017). Case Study: The Collapse of Lehman Brothers. Investopedia. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Adler, F., Mueller, G. O. W., & Laufer, W. S. (2013). Criminology (8th ed). McGraw-Hill: New York, NY.


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