Robbery vs Theft

Last week I visited the West Pikeland police station to do research for my next book. I had been searching the web for details about robbery interrogations, but never quite found what I was seeking. It was time to get it from the horse’s mouth, so to say.

policemanI was somewhat anxious as I pulled into the police department driveway, wondering if I’d be considered a crime suspect or a kook. Neither was the case. The patrolman who met me at the door was exceptionally hospitable, inviting me to a whitewashed room down the hall.

He pointed to a seat at the end of a rectangular table for me, and he sat catty-corner to my chair while I expounded on the plot of my story. When I got to the point about the police interview of my main character, the officer suggested that I take a good look at my surroundings. “Am I in the interrogation room? I asked. “Indeed, you are,” he said with a chuckle. “Look above.”

I stared at the camera bolted to the ceiling. “Am I being videotaped?” He nodded and laughed. “Yep.” “And is that a tape recorder on the table in front of you?” “Yep.”

How cool is that? I can reliably write my main character’s experience in the story. I asked more questions about the interrogation process, then the officer said, “You don’t have a robbery.”

“Oh, but I do,” I argued. “And I may even add a murder.”

The nice policeman laughed again, but emphasized that I had a theft, not a robbery. A robbery involves physical force. A theft is the act of stealing someone’s property. Everyone probably knows that, but I didn’t. At least, I never thought about it in those terms. There are some revisions to make in my manuscript.

Now I feel like an authentic author, interviewing trustworthy sources to craft a credible narrative. No one can take that away, even if force is used. I’ve got the cops on my side.

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