December 5th 2012
By. Terrence Morrow
The UEE released its annual Crime Report this past week. With more and more people rejecting Citizenship and embracing the darker side of civilization, it raises the age-old question: does crime really pay? When examined as a purely economic business venture, I would have to say, no.
There will always be exceptions, of course. The public eye has seen its share of infamous smugglers and pirates who have made a killing by defying the law. In my research, I learned that the true entrepreneurs of illegality are the ones who aren’t notorious, who don’t get stories and Vids fictionalizing their adventures. They are the ones who you’ve never heard of and, if they get their way, you never will.
This series of articles will ignore the exceptions and focus on what comprises almost ninety-eight percent of the research findings: the every-day working criminal.
While it’s true that the average criminal gets to avoid things like ever-increasing taxes and landing tariffs, guild dues and insurance that burden the legitimate community, you have to keep in mind that they are burdened with persistent expenses of their own:
Most haulers, shippers, and average Citizens don’t take kindly to having their livelihood stolen. Latest statistics estimate that eighty percent of bandit attacks lead to a battle of some kind. Since your livelihood depends on attacking others, odds are you aren’t going to get out unscathed. Therefore, you can expect fairly regular trips to your mechanic. Which leads us to the illegal chop shops and patch-up joints around the systems that cater to the criminal element, clientele that won’t want the usual paper trail or will require illegal modifications/repairs. One can expect a significant mark-up price-wise to do business with these types, if they don’t find more profit in shooting you and taking your ship for themselves.
If you get caught, the amount of Creds needed to mount an average legal defense is pretty staggering. Since most people don’t dream of being dumped on a PrisonWorld, you’ll want to keep a defense fund handy.
Low Offload Prices
One could view theft as the ultimate risk/reward. If pulled off without a hitch, it’s all profit, right? Sadly, the reality is much different. With cargo-tagging on the rise, it’s getting harder to move stolen merchandise so you either need to find a Buyer who’s willing to purchase stolen goods or a Fence who has the tech to re-tag the merch. Bottom line is that you will be getting well under market value for the goods, sometimes as much as 60% less than it is worth in legitimate sale. It’s a buyer’s market out there. You’re the one in possession of stolen goods, not them.
Like your ship, the criminal lifestyle will put you in all sorts of life-threatening predicaments anything from injury sustained during a heist to the ‘deal goes bad’ scenario. Whatever the reason, the odds are high that you will need to be patched up or have body parts replaced. Unfortunately, you can’t just waltz into your local MedStation or CyberDoc without risking suspicious doctors and surveillance feeds to the Advocacy so you are left dealing with underground doctors who will cut you to the bone with medical costs and hush money.
The Price of Identity
The criminal life is like quicksand; the more you ‘work’ the easier it will be to catch you. For every ship you hit, your reputation will grow which means that more local cops will be looking for you. Eventually, the Advocacy will get involved. To stay ahead of them, you have to minimize your identity impression. That means building up a cache of fake ID tags. As you move from system to system, you need to know what identities have been used and when, if there’s a possibility that the tag has “gotten dirty” by being linked to one of your attacks.
There will be times where you will need to ‘grease some palms’ for information on shipping routes, cargo manifests, or for unscrupulous political and law enforcement to look the other way. As the UEE statutes on corruption and bribery carry stiff penal and financial penalties, the average criminal should be very careful when attempting to bribe someone regardless of whether it’s their first or fiftieth transaction.
To me, it seems obviously that the financial strain of criminal endeavors feels vastly inferior to the potential rewards. Not to mention there is also the physical and psychological strain that existing in this world must have on your psyche.
Over the next few weeks, we will delve deeper into the world of the average criminal. Exploring each and every facet of what makes this world work, what draws in more and more men and women every year, and finally how one can hope to escape the whirlpool of the criminal lifestyle.
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