Tool Thieves

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There was a horror film in the 80's where the baddie used a very long auger bit to drill through an apartment ceiling into the victim in the apartment above. I want to say _Body Double_, but could be wrong.
scott
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on 3/1/2005 3:20 PM Scott Lurndal said the following:

I believe you're correct. Recall the scene but can't be certain of the title.
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snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net wrote:

Yeah, that was Body Double. Although I'd say it was more of a "thriller" than a horror film, re: the genre.
--
Jedd Haas - Artist
http://www.gallerytungsten.com
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A truck scale business man was checking out our scales. He said his father many years ago was a deputy sheriff. He got a call to go to this dental office. this dentist had given this lady something to knock her out and when she woke up he was having his way with her. She goes home and tells her husband. The husband took a claw hammer and knocked out the dentist and nailed his nut sack to the hard wood floor. This is the way the sheriff found him. Truth or not I don't know but this is what I was told.
Virgle
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Virgle Griffith wrote:

Sounds unlikely. Most of the folks I know would have nailed his weenie and both nuts to the floor. And left him the hammer standing up like a flag in a suitable receptacle.

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--John
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Many years ago, when I lived in Philadelphia, we were visiting a friend who's house was right across from a construction site. As the houses wee nearing completion, the appliances were stored in one of the basements. Two policemen in a wagon decided they needed new dishwasher and loaded them into the police wagon. then they got stuck in the mud.
Busted, you may think. No, they called the police tow truck. The driver came, hooked them up and pulled them out. then they went back in and go him a dishwasher too! Nice tip for his help. Did any of the neighbors turn them in? Of course not. Where do you think most of them got the materials to finish their basements?
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wrote:

It hasn't changed.
Posted on Sun, Feb. 27, 2005
He blew the whistle, and paid a heavy price
By Joseph Tanfani and Leonard N. Fleming Inquirer Staff Writers
John McFarlane Jr. says his father taught him to stand up for himself, to never steal or tell a lie. He learned the plumbing trade at his dad's side, too, just as John Sr. had learned it from his father before him.
But when McFarlane followed in his father's footsteps to become a Philadelphia plumbing inspector, there were things he had to learn on his own.
He had joined a fraternity with a tradition of penny-ante corruption going back generations, in which $10 and $20 "tips" from plumbers were accepted, even expected. "The green handshake," they called it.
He was taught to take cash in his first day on the job - just after his ethics training.
McFarlane said no. But plumbers kept jamming bills in his pockets on the street, mailing him cash in Christmas cards. Pressure came from other inspectors, he says, even from members of the city plumbing board.
In 2002, McFarlane testified about the payoffs. In his bland, matter-of-fact voice, he helped prosecutors convict nine of his colleagues of extortion; four others pleaded guilty.
In some places, that might make him a hero: the man who stood up and told the truth. Not in McFarlane's East Falls neighborhood, though. Not in Philadelphia.
Now, for the first time, he's willing to describe what he went through.
His windows were broken, his tires flattened, he says. In an East Falls grocery, he heard someone yell "Rat! Rat!" - and looked around the floor before he realized the "rat" was him.
Even now, he says, some coworkers shun him. He contends he deserved a promotion, or at least a commendation.
Worst of all, his own father turned against him. They didn't speak for two years.
"It's illegal," McFarlane said of the payoffs. "I don't know why my father didn't understand that."
Little by little, McFarlane's wife got them talking again. But last fall, his father died of a heart attack, stricken at age 70 while trying to unload drywall from a truck by himself.
For more than a year, McFarlane turned away reporters, but the dam broke with his father's death. Angry at what he sees as poor treatment by the city, haunted by his struggles with his father, he sat in his dining room last week and, with his parents' portrait behind him, described the isolation of a whistle-blower in a place where petty payoffs were a way of life.
It was the first time he has spoken out since he left the witness stand in 2002. His account is largely corroborated by FBI investigative reports obtained by The Inquirer.
Sometimes, McFarlane sounds as if he is still arguing with his father's ghost, still trying to convince him that he did the right thing.
"I couldn't ever figure him out," McFarlane said. "We were talking. I don't know if either one of us forgave the other."
Tradition of graft
The 2002 plumber prosecutions are all but forgotten now, overshadowed by the FBI's bugging of the mayor's office and the subsequent revelations of officials dealing million-dollar contracts like playing cards to big campaign donors.
But as that case's marquee trial unfolds and city leaders talk of cleaning up a rotten municipal culture, McFarlane's story is a reminder of just how hard that task may be.
The plumber cases revealed a tradition of graft that is embedded under the city's asphalt streets, in countless pipes and sewer connections that didn't get inspected because a plumber clipped a $20 bill to a permit application.
Plumbing jobs big and small were greased at each step: from the examiners who checked blueprints and the Water Department clerks who typed the permits to the inspectors who checked the work and the drillers who used jackhammers to open up the streets. Even supervisors took cash.
A Plumbing Advisory Board member, plumber John Bee, admitted in 2001 that he had "tipped" inspectors, FBI records show. Bee is still on the board, which tests plumbers for licensing and interprets the plumbing code.
In an interview last week, Bee said he didn't recall telling the FBI he had given money. Questioned in 2001, Bee said he had "paid his dues" and now only "tipped" rarely; say, if an inspector muddied his shoes and needed $10 for a cleaning. He said it was like tipping the mailman.
The acting commissioner of the Department of Licenses and Inspections, Robert Solvibile, said he is unaware that any plumbing board members admitted giving cash, and he wants to know more. "It's wrong for inspectors to take it and wrong for contractors to give it," Solvibile said.
Bee told the FBI that, one Christmas, he gave $20 each to three city plans examiners, whose approvals are needed before plumbers can start jobs. He said one examiner sent the $20 back - John McFarlane Jr.
A change of heart
McFarlane, 46, was a plumber before he was an inspector, and he, too, gave cash to inspectors - just twice, he says, when he was in his 20s. He says it made him so nervous that he botched the handoffs, handling the money in plain sight, and he quit doing it. He says he took nothing as an inspector.
Ask him why, and McFarlane talks about his father.
He thinks back to when he was 7, the oldest of five kids growing up in an East Falls rowhouse. His brother had been caught stealing at a store. His father asked McFarlane if he had done it, too. He said yes - and was made to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush. "I kept thinking I was going to have to brush my teeth with it."
McFarlane dropped out of college after a semester and worked on a beer truck. "You need a trade," his father said. McFarlane passed the plumber's test and ended up at the same firm as his father. Even then, they clashed. "He and I used to have fistfights," McFarlane said.
His father became a city inspector, and later, so did McFarlane Jr. He says he took the city job assuming that payoffs were a bygone thing - till he and a friend took the inspector's exam. The friend asked what they would earn. McFarlane said the job paid about $37,000.
No, no, his friend said. "How much do you think we'll make in tips?"
Why now?
When the FBI busted them, inspectors were incredulous: Why now? Cash had been passed for generations. "Since pipe was invented," former inspector Richard Zabinski told the FBI.
Inspectors were former plumbers themselves, blue-collar guys who raised families on $40,000 a year. "Tipping" was part of their world: Fathers brought sons to the union hall, then taught them how to pass bills to inspectors so they wouldn't be seen.
Plumbers seemed to like it, too. By "tipping" inspectors, they said, they could often fill in holes with no inspections and use pipe not allowed by code. "It pays off to pay off," one plumber told FBI agents.
Another told them he had tried to "tip" an inspector in Yeadon, Delaware County - and almost got arrested. "This isn't Philly," the inspector said.
When hidden FBI cameras caught the city inspectors, they argued that the cash was harmless "tips" for prompt service; they never approved substandard work, so it wasn't bribery. Jurors were unmoved.
Back in 1998, on his first day on the job, McFarlane went to ethics training. Inspectors had to recite the city's policy against taking gifts. Then he rode the elevator down to his new cubicle and in five minutes was pulled aside by Zabinski, then his acting boss.
He says Zabinski asked, "Did anyone ever tell you how things work?" - and proceeded to coach him to leave a desk drawer open and walk away, so plumbers could drop in tips.
McFarlane thought it might be a test, or a joke. "I thought Allen Funt was going to pop out at any minute."
Later, he opened up a Christmas card and found cash. He went straight to Zabinski.
"I went into Rich's office and said, 'Yo, I can't take this. What am I supposed to do with this?' While I'm saying this, he's opening a card and shoving money in his pocket."
In FBI documents, more than a dozen plumbers told of regularly tipping Zabinski and another plans examiner, and Zabinski, in turn, admitted getting up to $70 weekly in tips as an inspector. He said he stopped when he became a boss, and never approved bad plumbing.
Zabinski retired in 2001 and was not charged with wrongdoing. He declined to be interviewed last week.
When McFarlane realized what he had fallen into, he asked his father why he hadn't warned him.
"He kind of said to me, 'Wake up. Where you been?' "
McFarlane allows that his father accepted a cake or case of beer at the holidays. Once, he said, to avoid an argument at Thanksgiving, he took a case of Yuengling Black & Tan from his father that a plumber had dropped off. McFarlane sent the plumber $20 for the beer.
Other inspectors said his father took cash, but McFarlane Jr. says he never knew for sure.
"He told me he never asked for anything," McFarlane said. "That was as far as he would go."
McFarlane got assigned to inspect plumbing jobs in South Philadelphia with a veteran inspector, Fred Tursi.
Plumbers told the FBI that Tursi sought cash and complained when it didn't meet his expectations. McFarlane says Tursi introduced himself to contractors by saying, "Don't you have anything for me?"
Tursi, interviewed Thursday, called McFarlane "a liar" but admitted he had taken money. He defended his inspection work.
"I don't care if a guy gave me a tip. It was like lunch money," said Tursi, who along with the other inspectors is appealing his extortion conviction. "I used to put it right in my wallet... . If I had known this was a federal crime, I would have never taken a tip. None of us would have."
'Good guys' and 'zeroes'
Plumbers who paid were known as "good guys," McFarlane says. The rest were "zeroes," whose work got inspected last. That might mean waiting by an open hole in a street for hours. "Good guys" could turn in stick drawings instead of blueprints, or use cheap iron bands to hold up pipe instead of code-approved connectors.
FBI cameras revealed that many inspections weren't done.
When an inspector vacationed, the man covering his work was supposed to save him half of the "tips." Once, McFarlane says, Tursi returned from vacation to find no cash waiting. He got the list of inspections McFarlane had made in his absence - and began calling plumbers on it.
"Right there in the office," McFarlane remembers. "He says, 'McFarlane says you didn't leave anything for me.' "
McFarlane had figured the plumbers would be relieved he wasn't picking their pockets. Instead it made them crazy.
Plumbers he had known for years seemed to think he was holding out for more.
During the interview, McFarlane pantomimed the ways they tried to "tip": the friendly arm around the shoulder that ends with a bill slipped into a chest pocket; the chummy hand on the back that slides down and jams money into a hip pocket.
A plumber once ran after McFarlane's truck and threw a bill in the cab. Money would come folded inside a permit, McFarlane says - so for fun, he would snap it open and watch the cash sail down the street. "They'd say, 'What are you doing?!' " Plumbing board members, including Bee, urged him to take money, McFarlane told the FBI.
This week, Bee said: "I don't recall that." He said he had merely chided McFarlane for working "late at night without pay... . He's not going to be paid or appreciated for doing that."
The commissioner of L&I at the time, Edward McLaughlin, says he was having a drink in a taproom when a contractor approached and said, "You know your plumbing inspectors are taking money?"
McLaughlin, a former police officer, pushed ethics but could not crack the fraternity. "They were untouchable," he says. "The victim was a somewhat willing victim... . They laughed at us because they were drinking at the union hall and they were regulating their buddies."
Soon, McLaughlin was helping FBI agents Kathleen McAfee and Vicki Humphreys sneak cameras into inspectors' cars.
When the probe surfaced, coworkers wrongly suspected McFarlane was the original snitch. Court documents show a landlord first told the FBI of the payoffs back in 1998.
But McFarlane had been confiding to an L&I deputy about payoffs, and one day that deputy took him to see the FBI.
McFarlane was relieved. "At that point I wanted to get it all out in the open."
His problems were just beginning.
McFarlane says a coworker took to stopping by his office to say that if the probe cost him his pension, he'd hunt down the snitch and blow him away.
Once, Tursi told him in the middle of the office: "Even your own dad thinks you're an a-." McFarlane almost slugged him.
He couldn't bring himself to tell his father he had been to the FBI. He was drinking heavily. One day he got a pretty good load on and called his father, but couldn't get the words out. "I did tell him not to form any alliances with these guys," McFarlane said.
After one all-night drinking session, McFarlane blew off work and at 6:30 a.m. stumbled to his parents' house, a block and a half from his own.
He told his mother he had talked to the FBI. Scared that his father could be in trouble, he begged her to get him to cooperate, too. They cried.
The next day at work, his father stopped by his cubicle. There were no tears. He said that "if the feds wanted him, they can come and get him," McFarlane recalled. "But as far as he was concerned, he didn't know s-."
For a time, McFarlane was the only inspector working. The rest had been arrested or, like his father, allowed to retire.
No happy endings
In the end, no one walked away happy. After the "rat" episode in East Falls, McFarlane moved with his wife to a house with a white picket fence in the Northeast. Now, he says, some coworkers won't be seen talking to him, and since his promotion fell through, he worries that he can't pay the mortgage.
His bosses insist he's respected. L&I's Solvibile says the promotion was never promised and that it went to a candidate who scored first on the test; McFarlane scored second.
"My impression is he did what he did because he felt it was right," Solvibile said. "I admire him for having the courage to go against his father."
Solvibile said he has tried for months to get raises for McFarlane and other plans examiners. He says the city wanted to honor him but McFarlane declined.
L&I officials say there's no practical way to know if "tips" led to shoddy work below the streets. They have faith in the plumbers' professionalism.
Has the inspectors' unit been cleaned up?
"I hope to God it has," Solvibile said.
McFarlane isn't sure. Recently, he was training a new inspector when the new man asked about accepting cash: "Isn't it human nature to take something that's given to you?"
Now, with his father gone, McFarlane sits in his new house and keeps trying to unravel that tangled legacy, to reconcile the generous man who taught him not to lie with the man who froze him out when he told the truth.
McFarlane even asked the FBI's Humphreys what the agents had learned about his old man. She didn't have much to say.
"She said, 'John, your dad was a good guy.' "
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 (webpage)
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To paraphrase Pogo: We has met the enemy, and sometimes they is us.
Jack
-- Learn from the mistakes of others. Trust me, you can't live long enough to make them all yourself. I've tried!!

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Tom Watson wrote:

Sometimes our arab friends ideas of removing thieves hands doesn't seem so bad....
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On Sun, 27 Feb 2005 21:38:38 GMT, the inscrutable Badger

Perhaps, but then they'd be on Uncle Sam's double-dole roles since they couldn't work and were disabled. <sigh>
-- "Menja b, caga fort!"
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On Sun, 27 Feb 2005 19:03:19 -0800, Larry Jaques

Shirley you meant "rolls".
<sigh...giggle...>
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 (webpage)
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Larry Jaques wrote:

Hummm, they usually loose the left first time round, ass wiping being done by the left, eating the right...They loose the right second time, if there is one, don't hear much about a third time.
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A few years ago I had some guy run into my bicycle shop sweating, out of breath, and carrying a compound mitre saw. He was outraged, outraged I tell you! when I suggested that he leave..
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Interesting case here about a month ago. A friend of mine who does finish carpentry ran into a Macs for a coffee. Some thieves took the opportunity to relieve him of his Dewalt 12" CMS from the back of his truck. Now there's nothing too odd about that, but it turns out that a pair of undercover cops watched the whole thing from across the street, only they were staking out bigger game and so decided not to blow their cover. My friend was a little upset when he learned that the police had watched the whole episode without intervening, and the police assured him that they were upset about being unable to take the punks down, but such is life. By the time the TV crew arrived my friend had calmed down and accepted his personal loss as a contribution to the greater good. Made for a nice story on the evening news, but not much else.
Ken Muldrew snipped-for-privacy@ucalgazry.ca (remove all letters after y in the alphabet)
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wrote:

the cops weren't doing their job.
I would at least file a claim with the police department. And if that didn't work, with small claims court. See if that "greater good" argument flys with the judge.
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Faced with a choice between catching a petty thief and catching a violent criminal, I'd hope they go for the violent one.

I'd have to check the details but I seem to recall that the police department did come up with some assistance toward a replacement saw.
Ken Muldrew snipped-for-privacy@ucalgazry.ca (remove all letters after y in the alphabet)
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Unfortunately, it *does*. There's a _whole_bunch_ of 'case law' that says the police do *not* 'have to act'. And that you have no claim against them because they failto act in a given situation. Some of the incidents have involved _deaths_, not just property losses. No liability for "failing to act".
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Ken Muldrew wrote:

They couldn't call HQ with a description of the thieves for a marked unit to investigate?
Barry
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I'm sure they did that, but when the cruiser arrived 2-3 hours later about the only thing left for them to do would be to slip into the Macs for a coffee.
Ken Muldrew snipped-for-privacy@ucalgazry.ca (remove all letters after y in the alphabet)
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On Mon, 28 Feb 2005 19:09:34 GMT, the inscrutable B a r r y

And if on stakeout, didn't they have a camera handy which could have been used to catch the perps' faces and document the theft for a sure conviction? I understand the need for concealment during undercover work, but I hope the Chief told their unit to make a change which would allow them to continue to do police work while sitting around waiting for their particular bait to work. Multitasking, wot?
-- "Menja b, caga fort!"
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