Category Archives: Crime

Muslim Woman Wins Judgement for Not Shaking Hands

It really annoys me when stuff like this has to go to a court when common decency and understanding should prevail.

A Muslim woman in Sweden has won compensation after her job interview was ended when she refused a handshake.

Farah Alhajeh was applying for a job as an interpreter when she declined to shake the hand of a male interviewer for religious reasons.

She placed her hand over her heart in greeting instead.

The Swedish labour court ruled the company had discriminated against her and ordered it to pay 40,000 kronor ($4,350; £3,420) in compensation.

Some Muslims avoid physical contact with members of the opposite sex, except for those in their immediate family.


The interpreting company in the town of Uppsala had argued that its staff were required to treat men and women equally and could not allow a staff member to refuse a handshake based on gender.

But the discrimination ombudsman said she had tried to avoid upsetting anyone by placing her hand over her heart when greeting both men and women.

Sweden’s labour court found the company was justified in demanding equal treatment for both sexes – but not in demanding that it be in the form of a handshake only.

The Muslim tradition of avoiding physical contact with strangers of the opposite sex is well-known and perfectly fine. Some Christian, Jewish, and other religions have the same cultural quirk. And it’s fine… who cares? She woman in the case didn’t make a big deal about it and offered a perfectly reasonable alternative greeting. How many thousands of kronors were wasted to tell everyone in the case to “just don’t be a jerk”?

Joyride in a Plane

I’ll bet you $4.20 that the dude was high.

It isn’t immediately clear. However, an audio recording of the conversations he had with air traffic control give some insight into what happened on the plane after the Horizon Air employee took off.

In the recording, the man can be heard starting to worry about how much fuel he had on board. He also suggests he could land the aircraft by himself because he had played “some video games”.

The man, who is referred to by what is believed to be his first name, also discusses:

  • The co-ordinates for the orca carrying her dead calf on her back

  • Looking at the view and possibly going to look at the Olympic Mountains, in Washington State

  • If he can do a barrel roll before landing and “calling it a day”

  • Whether or not Alaska Airlines would give him a job after a successful landing

Killer Executed… Finally

Speaking of evil.

‘I just want to say I’m really sorry’ – those were the last words spoken by Billy Ray Irick before he was put to death in a Tennessee state prison on Thursday.

Witnesses to Tennessee’s first execution in nearly a decade say Irick at first signaled he would have no last words, but then gave a brief statement to those watching.

Journalists present reported that the blinds between a witness room and the execution chamber were opened at 7.26 p.m. Thursday, and about a minute later, Irick was asked if he had any words before the lethal injection drugs began flowing.

Irick was convicted in the 1985 rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl he was babysitting.


Irick was first set to be executed on May 4, 1987.

He was allowed to live for another 33 years after killing Paula Dyer. She would have been 40 years old. Her kids might have been in High School or college.

I do agree with the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for the most heinous crimes, but justice deferred for 30+ years is no justice at all. I see no reason at all why cases like this can’t be put at the top of the docket and let all of the appeals take their course in a matter of weeks – maybe months. Decades is unacceptable.

ABC News Misses Interesting Fact

This story is horrible.

The man who was arrested on a filthy New Mexico compound with 11 abused children was training the children to commit school shootings, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

The documents allege that 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj was conducting weapons training at the property in Amalia, near the Colorado border. A foster parent of one of the 11 children allegedly stated to law enforcement that Wahhaj had “trained the child in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings,” according to a criminal complaint.

Law enforcement was aware of a short-distance shooting range that had been installed at the compound, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

A defense attorney for Wahhaj is disputing the claims made by prosecutors in court documents that the children were being trained to commit school shootings, the Associated Press reported.

Here’s how the same story starts over on the Daily Mail. Notice the difference?

The Muslim extremist father arrested at a New Mexico compound with 11 starving children had been training them to carry out school shootings, new legal documents claim.

ABC News never mentions that the man was a Muslim extremist and he was running a killer training compound on American soil.

The inescapable motive

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. It’s a bit esoteric… I know.

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” The enigmatic words of “The Shadow” immediately came to mind upon hearing Clark County (Nevada) Sheriff Joe Lombardo discussing his office’s final report on the 2017 mass killing in Las Vegas.

While the 187-page report contains a detailed account of the events surrounding that day, the investigators couldn’t determine the killer’s motive. There is not any evidence that he was engaging in an act of terrorism, revenge or targeted murder. He was not acting on behalf of any group or cause. He was not demonstrably insane or angry. The only motive left is the most obvious. He was just evil.

We all intuitively know that evil is at the root of every mass killing like the one in Las Vegas, but we are uncomfortable with acknowledging that evil can act by itself without an identifiable motivator. Surely the killer must have been angry about something in his personal life or some injustice in the world, right? Surely society must have failed him in some way or missed the early signs. Surely there is some law or policy that could have prevented such a wonton act of carnage. Surely there was something that forced the evil in this man’s soul to the surface to explain such a physical manifestation of rage.

In this case, all evidence indicates that the killer committed an evil act for no other reason than that he was evil. Acknowledging this is unsettling to us because it challenges some deeply held convictions about our place in the universe.

It is in our human nature to want to explain everything. This drive pushes us to study, learn, experiment and explore. It is a drive that has pushed us to expand the boundaries of human knowledge. It is also part of our human nature to have the hubris to think that we can explain everything.

It is a challenge to our inflated self-worth as a species to be confronted with things that are beyond our explanation. It defies our nature to acknowledge that there are things that are beyond human understanding and are only knowable to God. Understanding that evil exists and that it cannot be “fixed” with the tools of this world is to understand that our place in the hierarchy of the universe is not at the top.

When it comes to public policy, we continually try to fix evil without ever acknowledging that the goal is unattainable. Whenever something like this happened, we flail about looking for some law or technique that would have prevented it just to see evil manifest in a different way. Our Sisyphean efforts are forever unrewarded.

That is not to say that we should not try to mitigate the impact of evil in our society. Reasonable laws, rigorously enforced, are the hallmark of an orderly society. The issue becomes when our policy efforts shift too much power from individuals to government. While evil can never be eradicated, evil’s power can be amplified when augmented by the implements of government. The Las Vegas killer was no more or less evil than Mao Zedong, Ismail Pasha or Joseph Stalin, but the Vegas killer’s ability to carry out destruction was vastly limited compared to those monsters. Evil diffused is more bearable than evil concentrated.

Another quote came to mind when considering the implications of evil in our world. The late Secretary of State Dean Acheson once said, “much in life could not be affected or mitigated, and, hence, must be borne.” Indeed it must. But not without the hope of a better world to come.

Washington County Sheriff Schmidt Weighs In

Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt wrote an important column for the Washington County Insider. Follow the link to read the whole thing, but the Sheriff brings up a lot of great points, and great concerns, about the movement to consolidate in Washington County.

A few years ago, Administrator Schoeman asked me if I thought those municipalities could be now convinced to combine their dispatch centers with the Sheriffs Center.  My answer was no.  He then suggested that if operation of the Communications Center and Radio System was transferred from the Sheriff to the Administrator (Mr. Schoeman) the municipalities would agree because his wasn’t a “political” position.

In my opinion, the County Administrator has become the most political position in Washington County government.  This opinion is supported by Mr. Schoeman’s current plan to add a second full time Assistant Administrator who will serve as a lobbyist and communicator to other government entities.  Mr. Schoeman and the Executive Committee’s focus is not on delivering necessary services to the public, but influencing (politicize) all areas of government into regionalizing.  Having a county-wide Communications Center and Radio System operated by the Administrator would politicize it.  Mr. Kriefall stated he would incentivize the municipalities with sales tax money.  This is just the beginning of public safety being steered by politics instead of what is in the best interest of the community.

Currently, and for at least the past 30 years, no single government position in Washington County is more involved in all areas of public safety than the Sheriff.  It does not mean the Sheriff controls public safety, but he has a constitutional duty to ensure it is provided.  The Sheriff is accountable to the people directly; not to mayors, administrators or elected boards.

The above example shows why maintaining jurisdictions and elected offices are important to government accountability.  The separation of authority and responsibility is important.  It may cost more to have multiple units of government, but without them you will have no accountability to the people.  Regional governments are only one step away from a single authoritarian state government.

Over the past few years, I have discussed with both candidates for Sheriff the above stated ideas and how they relate to the Sheriff’s authority and responsibility for public safety.  I believe both agree the Sheriff should remain in charge of the county Communication Center and Radio System and that combining with another county would be a mistake.  I also believe that both candidates agree that municipalities would have to join the county Communication Center voluntarily and if they did, that the Sheriff should remain in charge for it to be successful.

Chicago’s Politicians Run with the Gangs

This story is amazing and perhaps explains why Chicago is as crime-ridden and violent as it is. One the one hand, it’s shocking. On the other hand, it doesn’t appear that much has changed in Chicago in 100 years. Only the names have changed.

A few months before last February’s citywide elections, Hal Baskin’s phone started ringing. And ringing. Most of the callers were candidates for Chicago City Council, seeking the kind of help Baskin was uniquely qualified to provide.

Baskin isn’t a slick campaign strategist. He’s a former gang leader and, for several decades, a community activist who now operates a neighborhood center that aims to keep kids off the streets. Baskin has deep contacts inside the South Side’s complex network of politicians, community organizations, and street gangs. as he recalls, the inquiring candidates wanted to know: “Who do I need to be talking to so I can get the gangs on board?”

Baskin—who was himself a candidate in the 16th Ward aldermanic race, which he would lose—was happy to oblige. In all, he says, he helped broker meetings between roughly 30 politicians (ten sitting aldermen and 20 candidates for City Council) and at least six gang representatives. That claim is backed up by two other community activists, Harold Davis Jr. and Kublai K. M. Toure, who worked with Baskin to arrange the meetings, and a third participant, also a community activist, who requested anonymity. The gang representatives were former chiefs who had walked away from day-to-day thug life, but they were still respected on the streets and wielded enough influence to mobilize active gang members.


The former chieftains, several of them ex-convicts, represented some of the most notorious gangs on the South and West Sides, including the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Cobras, Black P Stones, and Black Gangsters. Before the election, the gangs agreed to set aside decades-old rivalries and bloody vendettas to operate as a unified political force, which they called Black United Voters of Chicago. “They realized that if they came together, they could get the politicians to come to them,” explains Baskin.

The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”


Many forms of political corruption—taking bribes, rigging elections, engaging in pay-to-play deals—are plainly unethical, if not illegal. But forming political alliances with gangs isn’t a clear matter of right or wrong, some say. In many Chicago neighborhoods, it’s virtually impossible for elected officials and candidates for public office not to have at least some connection, even family ties, to gang members. “People try to paint this picture of bad versus good—it’s not like that,” says a veteran political organizer based in Chicago who specializes in getting out the vote in minority areas. “Everybody lives with each other, grew up with each other. Just because somebody goes this way or that way, it doesn’t mean you’re just gonna write them off automatically.”

Bystander Stops Shooting

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – An armed bystander shot a man who open-fired on a back to school event at a Titusville park following a fistfight, police said.

The shooting occurred at Isaac Campbell Park on South Street shortly after 5:20 p.m. when the shooter, whom police have not identified, returned to the park after a fistfight and began firing.

A bystander licensed to a carry a firearm then shot the shooter, who was flown to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.

No Motive in Vegas Mass Killing

Sometimes, the only “why” is because evil exists.

LAS VEGAS — More than 10 months after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, police say they are closing their investigation without answering the key question: What drove a gunman to unleash a hail of gunfire that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more?

But authorities say after hundreds of interviews and thousands of hours of investigative work, they are confident there is no evidence of a conspiracy or a second gunman.

Stephen Paddock was an “unremarkable man” who showed signs of a troubled mind leading up to the Oct. 1 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Friday. He also was a reclusive, high-stakes gambler who spent more than $1 million in the year leading up to the shooting.

“What we have been able to answer are the questions of who, what, when, where and how,” Lombardo said. “What we have not been able to definitively answer is … why Stephen Paddock committed this act.”

Russian Spy Uncovered


US counter-intelligence investigators discovered a suspected Russian spy had been working undetected in the heart of the American embassy in Moscow for more than a decade, the Guardian has learned.

The Russian national had been hired by the US Secret Service and is understood to have had access to the agency’s intranet and email systems, which gave her a potential window into highly confidential material including the schedules of the president and vice-president.

The woman had been working for the Secret Service for years before she came under suspicion in 2016 during a routine security sweep conducted by two investigators from the US Department of State’s Regional Security Office (RSO).

The Guardian has been told the RSO sounded the alarm in January 2017, but the Secret Service did not launch a full-scale inquiry of its own. Instead it decided to let her go quietly months later, possibly to contain any potential embarrassment.

An intelligence source told the Guardian the woman was dismissed last summer after the state department revoked her security clearance. The dismissal came shortly before a round of expulsions of US personnel demanded by the Kremlin after Washington imposed more sanctions on the country.

Wisconsin Government Employees Cash In on Unused Sick Leave

Wow… from MacIver.

As previously reported by MacIver News, Wisconsin allows state workers to convert their unused sick leave into health insurance payments at retirement. State workers earn 16.25 sick days a year. The typical public employee in the system uses just over eight days based on 2016 averages. The unused days carry over year-to-year and accumulate throughout the employee’s career. 

Sick leave is calculated using the employee’s highest rate of pay. Similar to higher pension benefits, employees with higher value sick leave account balances tend to have a higher rate of pay, work longer and are older than the average retiree.

Every state worker is enrolled in ASLCC (Accumulated Sick Leave Conversion Credit Program). That program takes the number of unused sick hours an employee has and multiplies it by their highest basic hourly pay rate.

Upon a retiree’s death, surviving spouses and dependents are eligible to use credits from both programs. Sick leave credit conversion accounts have no cash value and do not accrue interest over time.

Employees who have worked for the state for over 15 years are also enrolled in SHICC (Supplemental Health Insurance Conversion Credit Program). This program takes the employee’s ASLCC amount and matches a certain portion of it.

But they sure do add up – to the tune of $3 billion in obligations, as MacIver News Service reported last year. 

This is yet another sweetheart benefit that government employees receive at the expense of taxpayers that is virtually unheard of in the private sector. Sick leave is a benefit that allows employees to be able to take a sick day without losing pay. In virtually every other employer, sick leave is use it or lose it. If an employee doesn’t get sick, they should count their blessings and move on.

Here are two other ways to handle time off that some employers are doing – and I really like:

  1. Don’t have any limit on Paid Time Off (PTO) and base it on performance. This only works for job roles where performance is relatively easy to measure, but the normal experience is that employees take fewer days off when they have unlimited days. When an employer sets a number of days and it’s use it or lose it, employees feel obligated to take all of their days off even if they don’t need or want to.
  2. Don’t differentiate between “sick” and other forms of PTO. In this method, an employee just gets a fixed number of PTO days per year (still use it or lose it) and they can use it for whatever they want. It’s really none of the employer’s business whether the employee or sick or not. The only relevant fact is that the employee is not at work. With this method, employees can actually use more “sick” days, if they need it, but they do so at the expense of “vacation” days.

It is long past time for the State of Wisconsin to update their HR policies for the modern world.

TSA Is Watching You

I don’t know how effective this is, but LEOs watching what people do in public isn’t anything new or worrisome.

Federal air marshals have been secretly tracking dozens of American travelerseach day who aren’t listed on government watch lists or suspected of a crime, The Boston Globe reported this weekend.

The Transportation Security Administration program, dubbed “Quiet Skies,” has existed since 2010 as an effort to mitigate the threat “posed by unknown or partially-known terrorists” after identifying people based on their travel history or other criteria. Air marshals then track such passengers and document their behavior at airports and in-flight, including how often they go to the bathroom, how many hours they sleep, if a traveler has “strong body odor” or “wide open, staring eyes.”

According to a bulletin issued by the agency in March and obtained by the Globe, the TSA tracks around 35 people every day. Which means thousands of Americans have been surveilled under the program since its inception.

Although some air marshals have criticized the program as expensive and ineffective, the TSA defended it in a statement to The Washington Post on Sunday, comparing the marshals to neighborhood law enforcement.

“We are no different than the cop on the corner who is placed there because there is an increased possibility that something might happen,” agency spokesman James Gregory told the Post. “When you’re in a tube at 30,000 feet … it makes sense to put someone there.”

“The program analyzes information on a passenger’s travel patterns while taking the whole picture into account,” Gregory added. “If that person does all that stuff, and the airplane lands safely and they move on, the behavior will be noted, but they will not be approached or apprehended,”

Revoking Security Clearences

The White House is talking about revoking the security clearances of former employees. I’ll admit, I didn’t know that former employees still had security access.

There are many kinds of security clearances and many different types of access. CIA directors and deputy directors, for example, have access to some of America’s most closely-held secrets. Your standard CIA employee, while still have a high security clearance by federal government standards, does not have the same level of access. And when a CIA director leaves, he or she is bumped to down to the basic level of clearance.

“When I walked out the door, I was actually removed from access to a whole bunch of extremely sensitive material because there was a determination made that I didn’t need to have that — the government didn’t need me to have that,” former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell told CBS News on Monday. “But I kept that basic level of security clearance.”

Former high-ranking government employees can in some cases ask for and receive a security briefing on a certain subject. But the purpose of extending security clearances is to help the U.S. government, not the people who have them.

It seems to me that any good security protocol would limit the number of people with access to the minimum number necessary and giving access to former employees would never be a good idea. In the private sector, former employees would never be granted access to rifle through the secrets of their former employer. Why would we accept a lower standard in the public sector?

I did not realize that former federal employees still had security access. They never should have and the Trump Administration would do the nation a service to end the practice now. It is just a security hole waiting to be exploited (and has already been exploited).

Bush Doctor Murdered in Bicycle Drive By


(CNN)A cardiologist who treated former President George H.W. Bush was killed Friday morning in a bicycle-to-bicycle drive-by shooting near Texas Medical Center in Houston, authorities said.

Dr. Mark Hausknecht and the shooter were both riding bikes on South Main Street, near Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, shortly before 9 a.m. local time, Executive Assistant Police Chief Troy Finner said at a news conference.
Hausknecht, 65, was biking north when he passed the shooter going in the other direction, Finner said. The shooter turned, fired two shots at Hausknecht and rode away on his bike, Finner said.
Hausknecht was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Finner said.

Peggy West to be Charged with Felony Election Fraud


MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office is expected to charge former county supervisor Peggy West with felony election fraud.

Milwaukee Police investigated a complaint referred from the Milwaukee County Ethics Board regarding West’s nomination papers, police said late Thursday.


Ortiz-Velez had filed an election complaint against West in January, alleging that West had improperly collected a number of her ballot signatures. It’s unclear if that complaint is what led to the criminal charge.

If it is about the signatures, that would be a strong message. There’s been shady things going on with this for a long time, but nobody is every investigated and charged. Until now…

Man Tries to Pull Gun on Police. Gets Shot.

Yet again, people react to a police shooting with outrage and, upon review, we see that the police were reacting to a very real threat. One might begin to think that the people reacting to police shootings aren’t entirely sincere or informed.

Saturday’s fatal police involved shooting that sparked violent protests in Chicago was captured on police body camera which shows the man who was killed was armed with a handgun.

Harith Augustus, 37, was identified as the man who was shot by police by the Medical Examiner’s office, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The video, released much earlier than expected by the Chicago Police Department, shows Augustus clearly had a gun holstered, as well as an additional magazine.

In the video, he appears to be reaching for his weapon during the confrontation with the police.

The father to a five-year-old, Augustus, also known as Snoop the Barber, worked in a barbershop nearby where he was shot.

Strzok Should Take a Page from Page

I don’t know how much of this praise is legitimate and how much is crafted to put pressure on the FBI and Strzok, but it sure is different from the Strzok testimony. Although Strzok kept trying to hide behind advice from the FBI to keep quiet, it appears that Page did not receive, or is not adhering to, the same advice.

“Lisa Page is a very credible witness and she’s doing her best to help us find the truth,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said following Friday’s hearing. “I can tell you, in ways I think she’s been falsely accused about not being willing to cooperate. We’ve learned some evidence today that would suggest she’s been willing to help, in the spirit of transparency. … The last thing anyone wants is to be falsely accused. Her willingness to cooperate today speaks well for her.

“I think there’s significant information that is new, that she has provided,” he added. “Obviously you know I am in favor of getting transcripts out for the American people, so that they can judge for themselves, but certainly I’m not going to share those today until those become public.”

Meadows tweeted following the hearing, “Remarkably, we learned new information today suggesting the DOJ had not notified Lisa Page of Congress’ outstanding interview requests for over 7 months now. The DOJ/FBI appear to be continuing their efforts to keep material facts, and perhaps even witnesses, from Congress.”

After she did not appear on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that “congressional subpoenas for testimony are not optional,” warning Page that the House could move to hold her in contempt if she did not comply.

“She was a part of the mess that we’ve uncovered over at DOJ. She has an obligation to come and testify,” Ryan, R-Wis., emphasized Wednesday during a news conference at the Capitol. “If she wants to come and plead the Fifth, that’s her choice, but a subpoena to testify before Congress is not optional. It’s mandatory.”

Putting Crooks in Jail Reduces Crime

Who would have thought?

Keep two things in mind in assessing the consensus among Democratic gubernatorial candidates — and, apparently, former Governor Tommy Thompson — that Wisconsin incarcerates too many criminals.

  1. In 1990, there were 215,000 crimes reported in Wisconsin. Last year the total was 123,388.
  2. In 1990 Wisconsin prisons housed 7,332 inmates. At the start of this year the number was 23,200.

In other words, the expansion of Wisconsin’s inmate population coincides with a 43 percent reduction in crimes reported by the FBI. Research documents a causal link between reduced crime rates and the incarceration of serious, repeat offenders. The staggering cost of crime to victims is obviously much less, a factor almost never mentioned when discussing the higher costs of incarceration.

It is amazing how many crimes are committed by a few people. Very few people just commit one crime, but almost all crimes are committed by a very few people.

Protesters Call for Revocation Reform

I agree that this process needs reform, but in the other direction. Parole and other forms of conditional release are just that… conditional. The criminal was duly sentenced to incarceration and is obligated to serve that full sentence if they violate the conditions of their release. Our system doesn’t do it fast or often enough.

Criminal justice reform advocates gathered in front of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections office Tuesday to call for changes to the state’s community supervision policies.

Chanting, “No more crimeless revocation, we demand their liberation,” the crowd of about two dozen community members argued that too many people are locked up for violating their parole, probation or extended supervision agreements.

“You are taking productive members out of society,” said Jerome Dillard, leader of Ex-incarcerated People Organizing, about the state’s corrections department.

Owl Thefts on the Rise

This is an interesting look at the downstream impact of the technology-enabled cultural shift away from hard currency.

The break-in at MacLeod’s aviary is unusual for a number of reasons. Their bed and breakfast sits on a picturesque, but remote part of the wind-buffeted Lewis coastline – hardly a crime hotspot. Thefts of birds of prey, and particularly owls are also uncommon.

But it is a crime that is being seen more and more frequently, according to those within the falconry community. And there is a growing suspicion that they are being targeted for a reason – as a replacement for cash.

Globally, the number of non-cash payments are expected to reach almost 726 billion transactions by the end of the decade, an increase of 10.9% since 2015. Some countries, however, are rushing ahead in the move to electronic payments. In the UK, for example, the number of cash transactions in 2017 fell by 15% to 13.1 billion compared to the previous year, while payments using cards increased. In Japan, cash payments decreased by 8.5% in 2017 and in China mobile payments grew by a fifth in just one quarter of 2016

But as contactless credit cards, mobile phone payments and online transactions grow, the amount of cash being carried by people and kept by retailers is decreasing. For criminals, this creates a problem. Cash is the thieves’ best friend – it has instant value, can be carried easily, is relatively untraceable and can be quickly disposed of.

So with societies around the world becoming increasingly cashless, thieves are having to find alternatives to help them make a quick, illegal profit. Here we look at some of the more unusual things that criminals have had their eye on.

Birds of prey

In Sweden, where just 2% of all transactions were made using cash last year and a fifth of people say they never withdraw money from an cash machine, there are perhaps the strongest signs that something is changing in the country’s criminal fraternity.

Four years ago there were 30 bank robberies in Sweden while in the 1990s there were around 100 a year. In 2017 there were just 11. There have been similar declines in the number of armoured-car robberies.

Meanwhile, crimes against protected species in Sweden have been steadily increasing, reaching 156 in 2016 – their highest level in nearly a decade – before a slight dip again last year.Law enforcement officials in the country say the theft of rare owl eggs and orchids are among the most common crimes against protected species.

These are then sold on the black market and smuggled around the world to countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where owning a bird of prey is seen as a status symbol. According to Filippo Bassini, head of the police unit for species protection offences in Sweden, an adult great grey owl can fetch more than $112,000 and are often sold on through the dark net.