Opinion: Suspicious

POSTED: 02/19/13 12:35 PM

The police, the tax inspectorate and the national traffic service worked together in Rotterdam last week in a sweeping control. They had a system for automatic license plate recognition at their disposal and that paid off big time.

The control started on Friday afternoon at 4.30 p.m. and lasted until midnight. The scanner saw 8,300 cars pass by and 86 of them (a bit more than 1 percent) were stopped. The police collected a measly €996 ($1,345) in unpaid fines. The tax guys had a field day: they confiscated 24 cars and collected almost €18,000 ($24,300) – more than former Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto ever collected in 2011 with his ill-fated condo-tax for foreign owners.

But the catch of the day was a 14-year-old boy. The Volkskrant reported that the boy was fined (without disclosing the offense) and that he wanted to pay the police officers on the spot. He pulled a true bankroll from his jeans totaling €450 (more than $600). The boy was unable (or unwilling) to explain where he got the money, so the officers took him to the station where he was collected by his parents.

That makes us wonder: if carrying around $600 as a 14-year-old is suspicious enough to take someone to the station, is driving around in an expensive BMW or a Lincoln Continental with heavily tinted windows by an 18-year-old not equally suspicious? We see them drive around on the island, but apparently there is no reason to stop these guys with the question: where did you get those wheels? Still sounds like a good idea even though there is a risk of stereotyping. We saw that once happened in the United States where a highway patrol saw a huge and brand new black SUV with tinted windows zoom by. The driver was black and the plates were out of state. The highway patrol arrived at the following conclusion: big SUV with tinted windows + out of state license plates + black driver = drug dealer. They stopped the car and gave the driver a real hard time. He turned out to be a high ranking police officer. So you never know.

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