Do you think the real-life detective/crime shows could help create a super-criminal?

This is something I have been thinking about for a while, but never got around to asking… I thought I would start it off in IMHO but mods, feel free to move if it lives long enough to <gasp> become a debate.
There are several TV shows along the lines of “American Justice” that describe in graphic detail exactly how some very disturbing crimes get committed. From robberies all the way to rape/murder and mass murders. They are also very explicit in detailing how the crimes happened and how they were solved… very often pointing out exactly where the criminal failed to cover his/her tracks properly. Usually, these shows even interview the investigating officers and they are very candid about how they went about solving the case. They describe what forensic evidence was left at the crime scene, what they were able to do with it and how it may/may not have helped solve the case. Hell, I even watched one a couple weeks back and they were saying what the best way to dispose of a body was! This was coming from a pathologist.

So, I guess what I am saying is this. Say that if someone wanted to kill somebody (or do whatever), by watching these TV shows they are almost getting step-step instructions in what to do and what not to do in order to carry out the crime.

Now, I am not saying that IMHO we should ban these TV shows (I like watching some) but is it possible that it may make the cops jobs tougher in the long run by showing off their skill and expertise? Should there be a line that drawn for cutting off what the “mass-market” sees on nightly TV? Or is it of the opinion that if someone really wanted to commit a crime, the smart ones would get whatever info the could from other sources?

Actually there was a book that was put out called “hitman” where it detailed how to murder someone. While this isn’t exactly the same as your premise, what happened was this: A person hires a hitman, who in turn buys the book. The hitman follows the directions and pulls off the murder.
Eventually they get caught and the victims family sues the book publishers (pallidine press, sp?).
I would give you a link, but I ain’t got that type of time…

I have always said that the people who claim “Crime doesn’t pay!” are either the victims or dumb criminals who got caught!

Learn from other peoples mistakes! Its alot less painfull.

to answer the question in the thread title: You bet!

(disclaimer: Don’t do crime. Crime is bad, MMMM’kay.)

by the way, rule #1: NEVER TALK ABOUT YOUR CRIME!!! :smiley:

I’ve had the same curiosity about the American Justice and New Detectives-type of shows for a while myself. It seems to me that the shows are virtually teaching by example what NOT to do if you’re going to commit a crime.

On the other hand, if these shows were cancelled, Discovery would replace them with more shows like ‘Nigel’s Ultimate Extreme Emergency Psychic Tornadoes’ and damn it, I just couldn’t take it.

Well, I certainly thought, as a kid, that I could commit the perfect crime by just doing it like the kid in Encyclopedia Brown but omit the single mistake that tipped it off.

I think that what we are forgetting is that most everyone who will kill someone will be under an emotional stress. Under this kind of situation, they will make a mistake.

To do the job, you would need an unlicensed handgun or at least one that is not in your name or be traceable to you. You would have to make sure that you disposed of everything that you wore while committing the crime. You would have to not have touched anything, or left any hair.

It would be damned difficult to get away with something.

You too Jonathan Chance? Thought I was the only one with that idea. :smiley:

Although such shows probably have given a few criminals a couple of ideas, I don’t think there’s anything too serious to worry about.

  1. Criminals are human and are likely to misunderstand / misapply / forget some crucial bit of information in the heat of the moment. (“Wait, I was supposed to wipe the gun before I threw it in the dumpster?! D’oh!”)
  2. Even following the exact “right” way to commit a crime is often not enough. There are many variables that simply cannot be controlled. (“Dammit, I did everything right, but that guy out for a midnight stroll just came along at the wrong time and saw me!”)
  3. Some things are simply not attainable for the casual criminal. Even if a crime is easy to do with X, X itself might be hard to get. (“Ok, in order to break into Company ABC, all I need is a list of where all the cameras are, when they reboot their system for monthly maintenance, and an authentic photo-ID tag for their company. Easy!”)
  4. Similar to 3, there are some things that are much easier said than done. (“The TV said not to leave even the smallest bit of material evidence. I’ll just wrap myself in Saran Wrap ™ to keep any hair or skin cells from falling off.”)

I heard about this on the History channel- According to the program, the book itself was supposedly written by some former murderer, but in fact, just by someone who got all their information from the T.V. Fascinating!

I would guess that most “smart” criminals (serial killers, high-level robbers, etc.) can figure out how not to get caught by themselves, while most dumb criminals (i.e., 99% of them) would still screw up and get caught even if the police gave out manuals on how to commit crimes and get away with it.

I love those shows…

…and they haven’t caught me yet.


Just go to hollywood and become a famouse movie/tv/recording/sports star, then you can do whatever you want without fear of ever going to jail.

i would add a “smiley” but the thought of it doesn’t make me want to smile…

      • The " Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors" book was written by a female mystery writer, and submitted to Paladin Press as a novel. They like it, but asked her to re-write it as a how-to manual. She got all the info off of publicly-available media: police reports she read, as well as other mystery novels and crime-related sources. ~ At least two people committed murders and were found to have purchased the “hitman” book before doing so. Paladin press got sued for liability both times; I don’t remember if they won or lost, but it cost them a bunch of money either way. They subsequently dropped publication of the “Hitman’s Manual” book. The text of the book was placed online somewhere.
  • I dunno if that helps criminals or not; police read those books too. The ways most criminals are caught is by cops who use shoes and a paper and pencil: identifying suspects, getting alibis and asking witnesses what they saw or heard, usually not anything high-tech, or even real complicated. - DougC

Seems to me a skin-diving suit or a full-body leotard would do the trick.

(Potential Super-Criminal gets up from his chair and switches off the DVD player)

“Yes, that’s it! I will become a Super-Villain! I’ll build an underground hideout with my millions and stock it with rockets and crime planes! I’ll blackmail governments! Oh, and I must call the humane society. I’ll need a white cat!”

You know, I always had a feeling that it was a fake book. The writing isn’t all that impressive either.

Also I think the program was on the discovery channel, not the history channel.

Just remember that wherever you go, and whatever you do, I’m watching silently, waiting for just the right time to mete out punishment. And I hate cats.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I take thorough notes during CSI