No Rat Is An Island

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"Our vehicles really get into the bowels of the neighborhood and we're back there where all the homes are, in the cul-de-sacs. And part of being a good neighbor is looking out for one another."

So says Barry Murray, spokesman for Truly Nolen Pest Control of America, whose exterminators are now getting training from Orlando, Fla. police and sheriffs in how to spot potential criminal activity at customers' homes.

Thanks to Russ A. Dewey, who adds: "I could see the police doing a Three Stooges thing and dropping mice on the property of a suspect."

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  1. Now all we need is firemen lookin’ for books to burn.

  2. When I read this article I thought it would be about these guys calling the cops if they find drugs in houses, but no–the exterminators are being trained to call the police if they see, for instance, a guy trying to break into someone’s house.

    So my question is: if you aren’t smart enough to know, sans training, that it might be a good idea to call 911 if you see someone breaking and entering, is it possible that you ALSO aren’t smart enough to be trusted to dump poisonous bug-killing chemicals in someone’s house?

  3. When I read this article I thought it would be about these guys calling the cops if they find drugs in houses, but no–the exterminators are being trained to call the police if they see, for instance, a guy trying to break into someone’s house.

    Since I find it wholly unobjectionable (call me a statist!) for exterminators to call the cops if they see somebody breaking into a house, I wasn’t going to post this for just that reason. Look more closely though, and you’ll see that that characterization comes from the stupid local news reporter, not from the cops or the exterminators themselves, both of whom are exceptionally vague about what it means when “somebody is getting ready to do something.” So you’re right: Nobody needs training to spot a burglar burgling (in addition to which any number of other people who don’t actually enter your house, from meter maids to UPS drivers to Jehovah’s Witnesses, can spot that stuff). They’re getting training to spot other things.

  4. From the article:
    Truly Nolen wants criminals to know and be warned that if you see the company’s yellow VW bugs, you are being watched

    Doesn’t announcing this on local news defeat the purpose and give the bad guys a heads up. So now that the criminals know that a bright yellow beetle means they are being watched, aren’t they just going to be more cautios around bright yellow beetles?

    And riiight..I totally believe that its just to catch burglars. There is no way that these exterminators would report things like drugs or a slave tied up in my basement.

  5. Uhmmmm…for clarification…said slave would be a SEX slave….not any other kind of slave.

  6. Do you think they’re report a Baptist minister’s family propelling a giant hamster wheel?

  7. Threadjack!!!

    This just in:

    Merck hit with $229 million verdict in Vioxx case.

  8. ChicagoTom,
    Uhmmmm…for clarification…said slave would be a SEX slave….not any other kind of slave.

    Somehow I don’t think that somehow mitigates the issue of the salve in your basement.

  9. I think this is simply the most inept reporting I’ve ever seen. What a bunch of fucking clowns.

    So I wonder if there is an incentive program for these snoops? That would be scary.

    Here’s something fucked up.. unless your apartment management gives you advanced warning, these assholes can be going through your things without you knowing. And calling the cops.

  10. As long as they travel in conspicious yellow volkswagens with mouse ears, I think the burglars will be safe.

    Tim,

    This is a strange story. The only reason they’d need training for is to call in the cops on things that neighbors otherwise wouldn’t. Like a domestic argument, kids having a party, or a whiff of weed in the air.

  11. Threadjack II

    Do you think you guys at Reason could stop spamming my (our?) email boxes with the announcement of your stem cell talk (and every other &*^&ing talk you guys have)?

  12. ChicagoTom–

    Maybe I’m more statist than Tim, but I’d say freeing a slave tied up in your basement is a legitimate function of the cops. Unless it’s a WILLING slave, but I’d rather not know about that.

  13. Oh, and I see Chicago clarified his comment before I posted.

  14. LIT,
    the salve is in my medicine cabinet, its the slave in my basement. 🙂 (Ok, I live in a Condo…I dont have a basement — or a slave)

    On a more serious note, what would the legal ramifications be as far as illegal search and seizure protections be if some third party rats me out if they spotted drugs or uhmm interesting looking plants under lamps in my closet? Is the likely justification that it wasn’t the cops who were illegally searching the place therefore anything they happen to find out from the 3rd party is admissible against me?

  15. I’d just like to chime in with my endorsement of the implied comparison between cul de sacs and bowels.

    And to point out that cul means ass in French.

  16. ChicagoTom,

    It is not considered an illegal search if a third party rats you out. The evidence would be admissable in court. However, the fact that the exterminators were receiving training from the police makes them an agent of the cops (as opposed to a true, independent third party). It would still suck to high heaven if you had to make this argument in a courtroom. The local district judge might allow the search and you would need to overturn the decision in appellate court.

    I bet the cops gave them a lot of training in spotting potential meth labs, pot growing, escort sevices, gambling operations, etc. This was not revealed to the moronic news reporter as it would dissuade folks from hiring these asshole exterminators. They wanted only the good publicity, not the full truth to be exposed.

  17. LIT,
    the salve is in my medicine cabinet, its the slave in my basement. 🙂 (Ok, I live in a Condo…I dont have a basement — or a slave)


    Damn this lack of editing capability. I’m really not that bad a speller, I just hit “post” too fast.

  18. “Tough” new yorkers turn wimps:

    “A large majority of the city’s registered voters support random bag searches of bus and subway passengers, according to a poll released Friday.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050819/ap_on_re_us/subway_searches_poll

  19. Next time I see one of them muthafuckin’ rat mobiles, I’m gonna shoot that bitch up with my AK, no questions asked.

  20. I’d also be concerned about an exterminator planting some weed in a nook and cranny and then alerting the police.

  21. Given the comments of the exterminating company, what person in his or her right mind would ever hire them for a job? I think I would just skip over them in the yellow pages and look for a less privacy-violating provider. Or go to Home Depot and DIY the whole extermination deal.

  22. Or just live with the rodents – not like they’re going to “rat you out”… (thank you, thank you…)

  23. jc: “I’d also be concerned about an exterminator planting some weed in a nook and cranny and then alerting the police.”

    This could be a real problem if the exterminators are getting reward money in return for tips to the cops. There is also the danger of dirty cops egging an exterminator into doing just that to someone he suspects but has nothing on.

    But here is a question for you; if I am a crazy meth-head running a clandestine lab — would I even care about rats and bugs enough to call an exterminator?

    Whore houses are a different story. After all you might lose customers if they were interrupted in the act by a rat running over them.

  24. Crushinator makes a good point that the search may not violate your constitutional rights if the bug guys are acting as agents for the cops. But that’s not a cut-and-dried deal.

    First, the stool pidgeons may not be agents of the cops; it depends on the extnent of the relationship. Just because the Red Cross teaches me first aid does not mean that I’m working for them every time I give mouth-to-mouth to some poor sap.

    Second, even if the stoolies are agents of the cops, the search would only be illegal if it violated some reasonable expectation of privacy. If you invite a cop in to crawl around your basement, and he stumbles across your hydroponic “lab expirement”, then it is unlikely that you will get that search quashed in court. The same would be true for the stoolie.

    I wonder if there is some way to require the exterminator to sign a confidentiality clause before entering your home. I bet that the lawyers from the tobacco industry could draft up something nice and ironclad.

  25. Ice, if you do shoot up one of these silly yellow cars with your AK, PLEASE PLEASE tape it and send me screencaps.

    Thanks.

  26. But here is a question for you; if I am a crazy meth-head running a clandestine lab — would I even care about rats and bugs enough to call an exterminator?

    Now I can’t predict the future, but I would guess that the majority of ppl who actually do get ratted out aren’t going to be home meth cookers, but casual drug users or ppl growing a plant or two at home. I’m guessing most ppl who are doing it on a larger scale are going to be much more cautios about who comes into/out of their house

  27. I was just talking to a friend in the dry-cleaning business. He said whenever they find money in the pockets they make sure the customer gets it back. But when they find grass or other recreational drugs they keep it for their own use, notifying the authorities would be bad for business.

  28. [paranoid gun nut]

    Plenty of room for abuse of this sort of thing.

    Is that a national-match level AR15 customized for Service Rifle competition, or an illegal M16 automatic rifle?

    To all but the uninitiated they look completely identical.

    [/paranoid gun nut]

    At first glance, making them sign a confidentiality agreement would seem like a good idea, but the courts would probably rule that it’s invalid as I don’t think you can legally enforce a contract that involves breaking the law.

  29. I seem to remember an old episode of Chips where an exterminator was casing the houses of his clients for valuable goods. Makes you think, huh?

  30. Makes me wonder why anyone watches CHIPS.

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