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Intelligence Gone Awry

"Every society has the criminals that it deserves." - Havelock Ellis

Crime refers to a prohibited act which violates the provisions of law, is detrimental and deleterious for the society, and is punishable under various provisions of law. The term crime has been derived from the Latin term crīmen which means 'charge' or 'cry of distress'. The Latin cognate has been derived from the ancient Greek term κρίμα, krima which referred to an intellectual mistake or an offence against the society, rather than a private or moral wrong.

William Blackstone has defined crime in his book, Commentaries on the Laws of England as 'An act committed or omitted in violation of public law forbidding or commanding it.''1.

Many researchers and criminologists have researched and written about the relationship between Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and crime and have found a positive relationship between them. IQ has been considered one of the most important correlates of crime. It has been found that people with a low IQ are more likely to commit crimes however, this does not mean that people with higher IQ do not commit crimes.

The world has seen many cases where the offenders have been people of high intellectual level however, instead of making positive use of their intelligence, they derivated towards committing felonious and illegal acts. It has been seen that people with a higher intelligent quotient are more likely to commit their crime in a unique and clever way, leaving behind no trace which would land them in trouble.

Criminal Genius:

A Portrait of High-IQ Offenders, written by James C. Oleson throws light on the offences committed by high IQ individuals. Through a sample James has demonstrated that individuals with an IQ score of 130 or above may commit more offences than those who have a lower IQ.

The world history is full of cases where highly intelligent people have been perpetrators of crime. If we take a look at the Indian mythology we realise that Ravana in the Ramayana and Shakuni in the Mahabharata were highly intellectual people however, they chose to walk on the path of crime and committed heinous offences. However, one cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that they were masterminds and used their prowess to commit those crimes and wrongdoings.

It is often seen that low IQ individuals are more prone to delve into criminal activities however, high IQ people might also commit crimes, though such cases are not as frequent as the ones committed by people of low IQ. Many a times intelligent people may feel that there is no point in regarding and following the laws as they feel that those who formulate and implement those laws themselves do not follow them.

Secondly some may question the very existence of humans and may consider it meaningless thus consider the laws governing human behaviour equally meaningless.

Some may think that they are too intelligent and prodigious and that they are above the law and do not deserve to be governed by laws made by average people, hence to show their supremacy, they may devise innovative, unique and ingenious ways of committing crimes to show their cleverness and intelligence to the world.

Some geniuses may also feel that their intelligence is not appreciated by the world and hence to show that they are astute and exceptional, they may delve into criminal activities and execute those crimes immaculately to show their brain-power.

Cases Of Intelligence On The Wrong Side Of Law

There are innumerable cases around the world where the perpetrators of crime have been carried out their crimes in such a clever and intelligent way that it was almost impossible to understand the way in which it was carried out and also to catch those offenders. These masterminds used such unique and sagacious ways to execute their criminal activities that it was almost impossible to catch them. A few of them have been discussed below:
  1. Carl Gugasian:

    Also known as the 'Friday Night Bank Robber; Carl is considered one of the most prolific criminals in America. He robbed more than 50 banks in 30 years and robbed more than $2 million. He planned and executed all his robberies in a methodical and meticulous way. He would carry out his robberies on Fridays, just before the bank was about to be closed thus giving him the name Friday Night Bank Robber.

    For the robbery, he would wear a horrendous mask, resembling a character from a horror movie, and would wear bulky clothes. Once he reached the counter, he would land on the other side in a standing jump, scaring the customers, then he would stuff as much money as he could and would leave as fast as possible. All this would take not more than two minutes. His initial 115 years imprisonment was reduced to 17 years. At the age of 69, he was released in 2017
  2. Victor Lustig:

    Regarded as one of the most notorious con artist of all times, Victor Lustig was a con artist from Austria-Hungary who scammed people around America and Europe. He is infamous for selling the Eiffel Tower twice and carrying out the 'Romanian box' scam. Lustig was a gifted child however he embarked on the life of crime.

    Lustig invited a small group of scrap metal dealers in a luxurious hotel and introduced himself as the Deputy Director-General of the Minist�re de Postes et T�l�graphes. While talking to the dears he noticed Andr� Poisson: an insecure businessman who wanted to rise in the Parisian business community.

    Lustig fixed up a meeting with Andr� Poisson and made him believe that the deal of the Eiffel Tower would get him a place amongst the top businessmen of Paris. Andr� Poisson agreed to pay a sum of 70,000 Francs to Lustig and Lustig ran away with the money to Austria. Out of shame and embarrassment, Andr� Poisson failed to inform the police about the scam and Lustig managed to return back to Paris.
  3. Gerald Blanchard:

    A Canadian citizen, Gerald Daniel Blanchard is known for carrying out complex frauds and heists in three continents. In 1998, Gerald stole the Star of Empress Sisi, one of the 27 diamond-and-pearl hair ornaments of Elisabeth of Bavaria, from the Sch�nbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. Gerald disabled the security alarm and replaced the real jewel with a replica purchased from a souvenir shop.

    After two weeks it was discovered that the jewel was a replica and that the real jewel had been stolen. Gerals himself offered to return the jewel to the police following his arrest in Canada on charges of fraud and robbery. After being released, Gerald Blanchard started a new career as a security consultant.
  4. The Pink Panthers:

    The Pink Panthers is an organization of international jewel thieves responsible for a number of robberies and thefts described as some of the most audacious crimes. The organization around 800 core members, including both men and women. Their crimes have been described as glamorous and artistic. The organization gained attention after they robbed a �500,000 diamond from the Mayfair area of London. In 6 years, the Pink Panthers robbed 120 stores in 20 countries.

    The Pink Panthers are suspected of robberies in the Ginza district of Tokyo. In 2004 they robbed gems of �3.5 million. In June 2007, they robbed jewellery valued �284 million. The gang is also involved of robberies of �8 million in Dubai, US$100 million in Paris and $136 million worth of jewels and jewellery in Cannes. At present there is quite little activity from the Pink Panthers.
  5. Natwarlal:

    Born as Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, Natwarlal is an Indian fraudster known for high profile crimes and escapes from prison. He is infamous for selling the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Parliament of India. He is known as the biggest con man in the Indian history. He is said to have duped jewellers, shop owners, foreigners and bank owners of lakhs of rupees. He is said to have sold the Parliament of India to a foreigner along with the members of the Parliament.
  6. Leonardo Notarbartolo:

    Known as the largest diamond heist of all times, the Antwerp diamond heist is known as the "heist of the century". It is one of the largest robberies in the world history. The thieves stole diamonds, gold, silver and other jewellery worth $100 million. The vault where the diamonds were kept safe was protected by many security mechanisms, including a lock which had 100 million possible combinations, infrared heat detectors, a seismic sensor, a Doppler radar and even a magnetic field.

    The building also had private security force and was heavily guarded; in short it was almost impossible to steal any valuables from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. Notarbartolo and four other Italian thieves, with their sheer intelligence and cleverness, were able to run off with all the costly diamonds and other jewellery from a highly protected building.
  7. Rodney Alcala:

    Also known as the Dating Game Serial Killer, Rodney Alcala was one of the smartest and most notorious serial killers known to the human kind. With an IQ of 170 he was a cold-blooded murderer and even took part in the famous TV show The Dating Game and even won the date. More than 1000 pictures of his crimes were found by the investigators however, he was proved guilty of only five of them. Rodney Alcala could have proved to be a boon for the mankind had he used his mental prowess in a positive direction, however, he chose the path of crime.
  8. Theodore John Kaczynski:

    Also known as Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski was a domestic terrorist, an anarchist, and a mathematical prodigy. Ted was only 15 years old when he got accepted into the Harvard University and also gained a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Michigan. With an IQ of 167, Ted worked at the University of California and then decided to live "off the grid." He learnt to make explosives from scrap materials. Between the years 1978 and 1995, Ted Kaczynski killed three people and injured 23 others. About 16 bombs were attributed to Ted Kaczynski.
Though the intelligent commission of crimes by some clever offenders has made it almost impossible to catch them yet the police and security forces around the world have been able to catch hold of almost all such ingenious offenders and the law has punished them in accordance with their crimes. However, there is a need to tap and train such highly intelligent people in such a way that their intelligence can be used for the good of the mankind.

People who commit crimes in such extraordinary ways cannot be average people; such people tend to be highly intelligent and have a high potential, the need is to ensure that such intelligent people indulge in positive activities which could prove to be beneficial for the human race. The need is not just to punish criminals in accordance to their crimes but also to ensure that those criminals walk on the right path when they are freed and also put in use the intelligence of the geniuses who commit crimes.

  1. Crime, ,(Visited on 17 Augsut,2022).
Written By: Akshita Tandon - 4th Year Law Student, University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Punjab

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