It’s been in the news lately that fake police officers are pulling women over with
red lights and sexually assaulting them.
Over the years, there’ve been many cases like this, all copycats of a crime in 1948.
The Caryl Chessman case, which eventually was a 1977 TV movie called, Kill Me If You Can, starring Alan Alda as Chessman. The Caryl Chessman case probably engendered more anti-capital punishment sentiment than any other case has, before or since (a hundred times more than the outcry to save Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams from execution in December 2005).
Chessman was a 27-year-old parolee from Folsom Prison who had spent the better
part of his adult life in and out of prison in January 1948 when he was arrested in
Los Angeles as the Red-Light Bandit. The Bandit would approach victims parked in
lonely spots, with a magnetic a red light on the top of his car resembling that used by
the police, and rob the victims -- sometimes taking the woman to another area and forcing
her to perform sexual acts with him.
Chessman was captured, convicted, and sentenced to death. Then began a 12-year struggle by Chessman to escape the gas chamber in San Quentin Prison. He wrote 4 books in his own defense (a lot of convicts write books while incarcerated and gain public sympathy). All of the books were very popular and Chessman gained the support of a many celebrities even Rev. Billy
Graham, Eleanor Roosevelt and countless other luminaries. Some of his books were even translated into other languages. They were to no avail, however, and after 8 stays of execution he was finally executed on May 2, 1960. Since the Chessman case, hundreds of rapes have been reported using the same M.O.
A spin-off of the Red-light scheme is the bump and grab scheme. This occurs when a
man sees a lone female driver in a secluded area usually at night and bumps the rear of
her car. When she exits to access the damage and exchange information, she’s attacked, robbed, raped, or perhaps worse.
Seven tips for a woman driving alone at night to minimize the likelihood of a redlight
bandit and/or the bump and grab scheme are as follows: (1) Always carry an operable cell phone (2) Avoid secluded areas as much as possible (3) if red-lighted or bumped in a secluded area at night, continue to drive until you get the 911 operator on the line and tell him or her your predicament (4) drive to a well-lit populated area before stopping unless 911 operator says
different (6) honk horn continuously to attract attention (7) intoxicated women are more vulnerable; therefore, don’t drink or use drugs especially when traveling alone.
(8) if an uniformed man claims to be a policeman, ask to see ID even though he may wear a badge but still call 911 on your cell phone before he even approaches your car. The first thing to tell the 911 operator is your location and ask him or her to stay on the line with you until you feel safe.
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