Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is it Better to Require All Collectors to Disclose All They Have or for the Police to Disclose What is Missing?

Archaeo-Blogger David Gill's recent posts demanding that collectors post what they own on-line (see (as opposed to the police posting what is missing) invites a check of Professor Gill's logic. Consider these hypotheticals:

A car is stolen in a large city. To recover the car, would it be better for (1) the police to post a photo of the missing car on line, or (2) the owners of every car in the city to post pictures of their car(s) on line? Which approach would best help recover the stolen car and which approach would best help car thieves?

Or, try this:

A child is kidnapped. If one was serious about recovering the child, would it be better for (1) the police to post a photo of the missing child on line, on milk cartons, etc., or (2) parents to post photos of all their children on line with the hope that someone finds the missing child among that group? Which would be better for the missing child and his parents, and which would be better for child abductors?

Anyway, something to think about. Comments, of course, are welcome.

1 comment:

Ed Snible said...

Car owners are required to tell the government the VIN number of all of their automobiles every one or two years. It's not a photo, but the purpose is to let the government track who has possession of which car. The police are allowed to pull anyone over and demand to see a paper with the VIN number upon it.

This approach helps owners of stolen cars.

Posting the VIN numbers of cars on the internet with owners would be a bad idea, as it would allow car thieves looking for specific collectable cars to target owners more easily. Yet if my memory is correct the VIN number on a car must be publicly visible from outside the car.

I am not a fan of big government and don't want a large government bureaucracy to be established to look for stolen coins and vases.

How about this: the government publishes some stolen vase pictures, and even kicks in some reward money to incent crooks to turn each other in. The government keeps a small percentage of stolen vase pictures secret to keep dealers on their toes.