July 23, 1999

Allure of Crime

We think of crime as a kind of monolithic, menacing presence. But there are many kinds of crimes and many kinds of criminals. Through our crimes, we express who we are. Today we hear of three different criminals and three different kinds of crimes.


A survey of local crime blotters from the Anacortes American (by John Bauer; thanks also to Gail Mann and Duncan Frazier) in Anacortes, Washington; the Pueblo Chieftain (by Juan Espinosa) in Pueblo, Colorado; and the Athens Daily News (by Ben Deck, Stephen Gurr and Joan Stroer; thanks also to Jim Thompson and Greg Martin) in Athens, Georgia. Actor Matt Malloy reads. (4 minutes)
Act One

Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad

When she was 21, Julia Sweeney got a job as a bartender's assistant and stole between ten and fifteen thousand dollars in cash. She describes the thrill of stealing, and how she justified her thefts to herself, and—oddest of all—how she became a more religious Roman Catholic during her crime spree. Julia Sweeney's an actress and writer, a former cast member at Saturday Night Live; and star of her autobiographical movie God Said Ha!. (14 minutes)

Act Two

You'll Pay

Some criminals do not see themselves as basically good people getting away with something bad. Some people do not believe God is on their side when they commit their crimes. We have this story from reporter Marilyn Snell about a bankrobber who now lives in Oakland, California. (17 minutes)

Crime Blotter Redux. We hear more crime blotter readings from around the nation, read by actor Matt Malloy. (3 minutes)
Act Three

Grandma Takes A Fall

No one knows how much theft is committed each year by senior citizens. One study found that seniors comprise 15 percent of people apprehended for shoplifting. Seniors of course, tend to be poorer than other Americans, but counselors who work with senior shoplifters say that many of them aren't stealing out of need. About half of senior shoplifters have stolen all their lives. Documentary filmmaker Jeanne C. Finley talks with an elderly shoplifter to find out why. (15 minutes)