The TV happened to be switched on at the Crimewatch channel a few days ago and I happened to watch this (true story). It is about a criminal in the mid-nineties whose modus operandi was to befriend unsuspecting tourists and find a way into their rooms (e.g. by sharing a room or agreeing to go to breakfast together). Once in, he used an electric shocking device to put out his victims, killed them, then doctored their passports and credit cards to get their money.
What stunned me in particular was how completely normal, friendly and charming this criminal seemed when chatting with tourists. Watch from 18’10” to 18’50” and from 28’42” to 29’34” in the video (continue watching if you want to see what happened next, but please be warned, it is gruesome). Disturbingly, I am pretty sure every single iota of ‘gut feel’ that has been honed in me in my almost half a century of existence and every bit of cellular intelligence in me would not have raised a single alarm bell if this person had started a conversation with me. How often have we chatted with passengers in a flight or people waiting to board an airplane and used our senses to decide whether to talk more, meet again or become friends – everybody does it!
I am still flabbergasted and dumbfounded, a few days after watching this. These victims were really, really unlucky and perhaps all that can be said (lame as it sounds in this context) is, let’s not be charmed too quickly when talking to any stranger. Also, given the criminal’s history of having been to prison many times, perhaps it would have been helpful if the authorities could have put some sort of ‘watch’ on him and not let him travel so freely. I wonder if police and detectives are sufficiently resourced to do this?