I was watching one of those Dateline-type shows this week, about a rich wife who was kidnapped, followed by the inevitable typed-letter to the mega-rich husband, saying “Leave $2 million in a duffle bag, next to the trash can, and you’ll get your wife back. Don’t involve the cops”.
It got me thinking - does one of those situations ever work out like the bad guy hopes it does? Wherein he gets his $2 million, the husband gets his wife back unhurt, and the bad guy rides off into the sunset? Do you reckon it happens like that 1% of the time? 20%? 70%?
Everything you see on TV and the movies, the bad guy always gets caught when he’s approaching the trash can, or is found spending the marked-bills at the local Walmart… or it’s all a ruse, and the rich wife was dead the whole time.
(just found the case-story that I was watching - it was this gal, Kerry Whelan, who was kidnapped and murdered by an acquaintance back in 1997).
I live in a fairly big city, and I can’t remember ever hearing a story along the lines of “The police are asking your help in finding a kidnapper who picked up a large duffle-bag near the dumpsters behind City Hall, last Thursday between 3:00 and 5:00pm. We have no description of the suspect, and no record of the serial numbers on any of the bills. We are happy to report, however, that husband and wife have been reunited, and look forward to living happily ever after”.
There was the Getty kidnapping, which was semi-successful. Some of the kidnappers were arrested but only two of them were convicted. And most of the money wasn’t recovered.
On a side-note, this incident showed how much of a dick Jean Paul Getty Senior was. When his grandson (and namesake) was kidnapped and the ransom notes began to arrive, he simply announced he wouldn’t pay anything. (“I contend that acceding to the demands of criminals and terrorists merely guarantees the continuing increase and spread of lawlessness, violence and such outrages as terror-bombings, “skyjackings” and the slaughter of hostages that plague our present-day world.”) He finally backed down a little after the kidnappers mailed his grandson’s ear to him. He then offered $2,200,000 - because that was the maximum amount he’d be able to claim as a tax deduction. He then loaned the money for the ransom to his son to have his grandson released - and he made his son pay the loan back with interest.
Although that case was in Italy. The OP didn’t specify, but I think most agree people get away with this outside the US.
The only US case I can find is the Virginia Piper kidnapping. Can’t find a really good source, but apparently the guys accused of it appealed, had conviction reversed - were later retried - and acquitted.