Is it possible to commit a crime and not get caught...

So as not to hijack this thread: the thread gives the hypothetical of a device someone just invented of a “time viewing device” that would allow anyone to view (but not affect) any time and place in the past.

So what would this do to crime? Anyone who commits a crime like one committed today would invariably get caught. The Time Viewer could be used to track all persons and events related to that crime. Wear a mask? Forget it. The Time Viewer could just rewind until it found you putting on the mask. (Or scroll forward until you take it off.)

So here’s the interesting question: given this situation, what would it take to commit some crime and NOT get caught for it? What type of crime would it be? How would you design it?

Discuss. :smiley:


Hack a computer.

Do it properly.

There are legends of dishonest programmers who modified code to siphon a few pennies here, a nickle there. And buried the code so well hat it wasn’t detected for years.
I’d install kill logic to stop the hack after 3 years, and then quietly close the accounts into which the stolen funds were diverted.

No need to spoof anything - all code is 100% in-house, and the machine can’t even be accessed except via a coax cable plugged into a box behind a steel door with people inside 7/24.

Get hired by a bank as a programmer.

Two “crimes” which, if done successfully, will not/can not be prosecuted:

  1. Rebellion - the winner will not prosecute itself for insurrection, treason, whatever.
  2. Suicide - the perp is no longer available for prosecution

Just like the way much money laundering happens now.

You can make a convoluted chain of transactions that are simply too hard to follow. Sure, a dedicated detective could spend years unraveling one transaction you did yesterday. But meanwhile you’ve done another transaction every day for the intervening 5 years.

Now IF the machine could also intelligently track everything about everything at computer-like speed, you’d have a hard-to-escape tool. Universal surveillance by intelligent machines is a pretty scary thought. Unless you’re a bigwig at Google. Then it’s your ticket to insane riches.

How about some advanced kind of hypnosis or mind control, to get other people to commit the crime for you? It could work for murders. Obviously, though, you have to disguise the mind control as something innocuous. Like hiding subliminal messages in emails to people. Of course, I don’t think there exists any real-world way to do this.

Or posts to an internet message board. Y’know, hypothetically…

Suicide is a crime?

I drove right through a stop sign today…Heh heh…I’m so bad. You’ll never talke me alive coppers!

I was thinking along the lines of a series of convoluted actions, each of which itself was legal, but that nonetheless produced a criminal result. However, it would have to go undetected, otherwise the actions could be traced back to the perpetrator…


You could easily commit a crime and get away with it, just as a random example, break into someones house and steal some money. If you manage to to enter and exit without arousing suspicion and the amount of money stolen is never missed then there is no reason to investigate the crime in the first place because no-one knows it happened.

Of course the difficult part of all that is not arousing the suspicion that a crime has been committed at all.

Good point. So the perfect murder would be the same as it is now: Make it look like an accident.

See: John Stith’s Scapescope, Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man.

There are many crimes that rely on intent which would be difficult to prove, even with all encompassing surveillance. For example, say you work at a bank and you introduce a bug that would fatally cripple a key system 3 years in the future. You quit the bank after 2 years and join a competitor with a hefty stock signing bonus and your stock goes up when your former bank implodes. Was it a pre-mediated act of insider trading or an innocent, unfortunate mistake? Nobody can tell.

Another example of notoriously hard to prosecute crimes would be date rape. He claims she was eager, tipsy but not impaired and gave no sign of wanting him to stop. She claims she was impaired, felt threatened and afraid to make any outward sign of defiance for fear of retaliation.

Someone still has to devote time to investigating the crime, looking back in time.

Happy goldfish bowl!

Yeah, they did it in Superman 3. And then there were a bunch of hackers that did this in the 70’s as well. One of them got busted.

Logically, you’d assume coroners would investigate *all *deaths not caused by obvious medical conditions using the time viewer.

Remotely hack the Time Viewer causing it to erroneously demonstrate that the Time Viewer corporation committed crimes.

I take it where you are going with this is that if you had near ubiquitous surveillance, where video cameras cover the majority of the entire country, you would make committing a crime without being caught on camera enormously more difficult. Now, Britain is trying this, as I understand it the problems include the fact that the cameras are too obvious (so criminals can find a dead zone to commit a crime in without difficulty) and that it’s hugely labor intensive to actually investigate the footage. This means that lots of crimes that are theoretically solvable with enough analyzing of the video feeds are not actually solved.

But, you could obviously make this a lot better, and correlate anyone walking down a street with the subscriber ID of the phone they are carrying (this would make anyone only carrying a burner phone or no phone automatically suspicious) and check against facial recognition. Now, if you know where everyone was at all times, you can easily determine who was in an area when a crime was committed (and instantly check alibis).