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Protection Money

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday,  a customer asked if I could visit his kiosk to help him take out  CCTV footage for the police.

The day before, he explained, 2 men had come into his shop  whilst he was out.  These two men explained to the shop assistant that they had decided to take kr 1000 per week as protection money.   If the shop didn’t pay, then these two characters  “couldn’t be responsible for anything bad” that happened after that.  The assistant remained really cool and just kept saying that the boss wasn’t here and that they would have to talk to him.  The leader of these two then suggested that the assistant should pay kr 1000 from the till now and that would be the start of their contract.

To give the shop assistant full credit he was really calm and repeated that they needed to speak to the boss.  In the end he picked up his phone and said he was going to call the boss. The two men decided to leave at this point.

You might think this story belongs in 1940’s Chicago and not our Wonderful Copenhagen in 2010.  The police found out that these  men had visited several shops up and down Haroldsgade.  When I reviewed the CCTV images of the two men, they were excellent quality.  One hid his face with a hood on the way in but stupidly took it off on the way out. There were really clear images of both men and I guarantee that if you knew them, you would recognize them.  My finger itched to just upload this video to YouTube but with the consequences being as severe as 4 months in prison or a 30000 kroner fine, I just couldn’t. The police will take the CD we made, review the images and then place the physical CD in a folder for possible review later (yes, it is that old-fashioned).   If we’re lucky they might know one of the men from past crimes.  With past experience, nothing much will be achieved and the shop keeper will probably hear nothing from the police again.  If he doesn’t pay up when the two guys return, what’s going to happen to his shop? Maybe they will drive by at night and smash the windows causing endless hassle and higher insurance premiums.  Depending on the criminal, the damage could be worse yet.

When I tell people I know about this they react with disbelief and if you are thinking this is an isolated incident, think again.  I have another customer, a bar in Nørrebro where they pay kr 400 per week to protect them when it comes to that time of night when they cash out.  A guy comes to stand in the bar and make sure nobody tries to steal their takings.  This ‘service’ isn’t optional for the owner.  He explained that he risks damage to the shop if he doesn’t pay.

I wish, really wish, we could use all of these social networking tools at our disposal today to propagate images of criminals and videos of their crimes. The law regarding usage of video material is antiquated and actually helpful to criminals;  the more incognito they are, the more easily they can carry on their business.

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