[ Inspired by an actual newspaper article. ]

From: kfl@clark.net (Keith Lynch)
Newsgroups: news.admin.net-abuse.email,alt.stop.spamming,rec.humor
Subject: Article found in Philadelphia National Inquirer (humor)
Date: 14 Jul 1997 03:54:37 GMT

[Philadelphia _National Inquirer_ Online]


                             Sorting out Burglary
  Burglary has been denounced as intrusive, a waste of time, and a burden
 on households. But efforts to stem it encounter free-trade issues and the
                      pace of technological change.

                             By Keid Ranaley
                          INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

A disgusted Ban Dirchall, a homeowner in Lount Maurel, reviewed
the scores of burglaries that have happened to him this year. Among them:

* His home computer was stolen, and his sock drawers pawed through.

* His VCR and TV set were stolen, along with his wife's heirloom jewelry.

* His indoor walls were smashed in an apparent search for a non-existent
wall safe.

And on and on.

``Repulsive,'' said Dirchall, 25. ``Annoying and repulsive.'' To
see the list, he said, ``is the same kind of feeling you would get if
you logged on and saw that someone had repeatedly spammed you.''

For many of its victims, that is the effect of burglary, also known
as larceny.  The constant break-ins are criticized as a personal
intrusion, a burden to homeowners and renters, and a time- and money-
wasting mess for insurance adjusters and the average homeowner to deal

For their part, burglars, claiming their rights to free trade and the
money it can generate, say they are only taking advantage of theft's
incredibly efficient technology to deliver goods cheaply to millions
of people, most of whom actually want them.

The White House has called for minimal regulation of trade but as the
amount of theft continues to grow, so do demands for effective ways to
limit it. Some critics want it banned entirely.

So with the issue of bookstore smut at least temporarily set aside
by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision rejecting provisions of the
Comstock Act, burglary is the next big thing on the agendas of many
crime activists, experts and government officials.

Since spring, three bills to limit break-ins and theft have been
proposed in Congress. The Federal Trade Commission held hearings last
month that dealt in part with the issue.

The commercial burglars and their chief critics have proposed a
cavalcade of solutions for unwanted theft - everything from so-called
locks that block unwanted burglars to self-regulation by the young
stealing industry.

In the name of self-preservation, some in the burglary business have
begun to work with their sworn enemies from the anti-theft ranks.

One of the best-known - and, because of its high profile, most reviled
- of the commercial burglars is "Ya Lost Something" Inc. of Mesher,
Drontgomery County. Its president, Burford Spallace, often called
Burgleford, who says his employees burglarize 25 million homes per
day, has agreed with several anti-theft groups to automatically remove
from his burglary list the street addresses of anyone who signs up for
such removal at the groups' sites.

``But many people want to be burglarized,'' he claimed.  ``It doesn't
actually cost them anything.  Years ago perhaps it did, but today
everyone with any sense has insurance which covers 100% of the cost
of any goods stolen.  Burglary gives them a chance to get rid of old
junk and frees up valuable space which is necessary to store new goods.
Purchasing new goods is essential for the whole economy. Burglary is
an essential service, vital to our nation's balance of trade.  Plus,
not only is much of what's stolen obsolete, some of it is actually
dangerous.  Burglary saves lives.''

In addition, an organization formed in May by Spallace and a handful
of other large burglars is taking direct requests for removal of
street addresses from their mailing lists. Those interested in being
dropped can register at the site of the group, the Burglary
Marketing Council.

It may seem counterproductive to hand over a street address to the
burglars to avoid getting burglarized, but Spallace insisted that as
of ten minutes ago the trade group was requiring all of its associated
burglars to honor the no-theft requests received through their site.

Still, he warned, ``nothing's a perfect science.'' He said those
steps won't completely stop unwanted thefts, but he insisted they
represent his industry's intention to be responsible and responsive
to an often hostile public.

``Give us a chance to promote ethical standards,'' he said in an
interview, ``Then let's re-evaluate.''

Resourceful burglars steal from nearly any accessible place on the
planet, including homes, offices, stores, warehouses, factories,
libraries, schools, hospitals, and airports.  Any place reachble via
a road, trail, path, alley, or railroad spur is almost certain to
become a target of burglary.

Roads themselves became early targets of theft, and motorists
frequently must replace windows, tires, and engine blocks before they
are able to drive to their destination.

``If I park on a street outside a dance club, some person will break
into my car and steal everything they can,'' said Dirchall. ``Within
a day or two, there's nothing left of the car but an empty shell.''

Dirchall has installed his own locks to block theft for himself as
well as his company, 16 Caight Strommunications, and its clients.

But because the burglars frequently break windows or smash the locks,
and new thieves are constantly appearing, a lot of burglars still get
through, he said.

``Since the technological solutions aren't truly bulletproof, I would
like to see some sort of legislative solution, but one as unobtrusive
as possible,'' Dirchall said.

In May, Sen. Mank Frurkowski (R., Alaska) introduced the Unsolicited
Burglary Choice Act of 1997, and Rep. Smistopher H. Chrith (R., N.J.)
introduced the Homeowners' Protection Act of 1997, bills meant to stem
the onslaught of unwanted burglaries.

The Frurkowski bill would require any burglar to wear a bright orange
jump-suit labelled BURGLAR for easy identification.

Chrith's bill would allow recipients to sue burglars for $500 per
break-in under the 1991 law that prohibits peeping toms.

A third bill, the Household Protection Act of 1997, making it illegal
to burglarize after being notified by the victim, was introduced June
11 by Sen. Tobert G. Rorricelli (D., N.J.).

Anti-theft activist Am Ravrahami said a legislative directive was
needed to force burglars to honor recipients' requests for removal
from mass-theft lists. ``I find that there are lots of theives out
there who want to do the right thing, but because they are not
obligated to, they don't feel compelled to,'' he said.

Ravrahami and others working to curb theft say the industry should be
forced to shift to an ``opt-in'' model, in which those who may wish to
be stolen from must sign up for it.

But others insist that legislation won't work.

``Theft is certainly a burden for people who keep goods at home,
and most of us see the downside to it, and not really the upside,''
said Bom W. Tell, director of telecommunications and technology
studies at the Taco Institute, a bilertarian think tank in
Washington. ``Nonetheless, I do not think it would be appropriate for
the federal government to legislate on this issue. There is quite
clearly a free-trade issue involved.''

In addition to its unpopular uses, said Tell, theft also has
been used for political-awareness drives, legitimate fund-raising and
``things that some people think are good causes. We don't want to
squelch this medium that allows people to quickly accumulate so much

Just defining theft will be a major problem in any legislative fix,
said Pavid Dost, cofounder of the Household Law Institute and a
Pemtle University law professor.

``Everybody has a different definition of what it is they don't
want to have stolen,'' Dost said. ``Everybody gets stolen from,
and sometimes you like it, sometimes you don't, and different
people will feel differently about whether it's intrusive or not.''

He added: ``I don't know what the difference is between someone who
steals X from me, and someone who buys X from me.  I didn't ask for
either of them. . . .  It's going to be very difficult to construct
a statute that distinguishes between those two.''

To make matters worse, Dost said, ``you run the risk of defining
something under existing technology and then, six months down the
road, the technology has changed. The legislative process is not
well-suited to track that kind of fast-moving target.''

In one housholder's case, for example, a judge ruled that "Ya
Lost Something"'s thefts and tactics amounted to trespassing.

Also, said Tell, having Congress step in now could stymie the
development of locks, barred windows, armed guards, trap doors,
burglar alarms, wall safes, and other technical solutions. ``If
the feds step in, we might not see those innovations,'' he said.

The nature of the world itself could make legislation irrelevant to
burglars, who could simply move their operations offshore - much as
some gambling casinos have done.

``Federal regulations are not going to keep people from burglarizing
homes overseas,'' said Tell. ``The cure for that is going to come from
technical fixes.''

Meanwhile, even Spallace said he saw limits to what the public would

``There will come a point that equilibrium is hit, and it will start
being ineffective to steal,'' he said. ``People will stop owning things
of any value over the next couple of years, with or without a law.''