American Stasi

Didn’t this sort of thing used to horrify Americans when it was East Germans spying on each other for the Deutsche Demokratische Republik?

“For this year, everyone that’s called has pretty much been just looking for money,” said Sgt. Lawrence Beller, who answers Crime Stoppers calls at the Sussex County, N.J., sheriff’s office. “That’s as opposed to the last couple of years, where some people were just sick of the crime and wanting to do something about it.”

As a result, many programs report a substantial increase in Crime Stopper-related arrests and recovered property, as callers turn in neighbors, grandchildren or former boyfriends in exchange for a little cash.

I already know of at least one couple in which the father was arrested and spent the night in jail after being reported by a neighbor on suspicion of child abuse. In that particular case, the spying was unmotivated by pecuniary interest and was largely inadvertant; the neighbor had called the police and wanted to know if spanking was supposed to be considered child abuse. It wasn’t, but somehow the question got misinterpreted as an accusation. But if there’s money to be made in reporting church attendance and Bible study, you know there will be thousands who will be more than willing to play informer… ironically, many of them the very same people who would have been outraged to the point of apoplexy if anyone had taken cash for informing the police of those breaking the anti-sodomy laws.

Regardless, it does make for an interesting economic indicator, though, and one that tends to support what Art was saying in a comment about his observations in the pattern of automobile repairs showing behavior indicative of a recession.