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Eugene Francois Vidocq
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Crime Fighter
    (July 24, 1775-May 11, 1857)
    Born in Arras, France
    French criminalist, author, scientist, and former outlaw
    Founder and first director of the crime-detection Sûreté Nationale
    Head of the first known private detective agency
    Widely believed to be the father of modern criminology and of the French police department
    Founded Le bureau des renseignements (Office of Information), a company that was a mixture of a detective agency and a private police force (1833)
    Perhaps best known as the model for both Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert in Victor Hugo's 'Les Miserables' (1862)
    Exploits were chronicled by two journalists under a pseudonym, 'Mémoires d'un forçat ou Vidocq dévoilé' (1829)
    Penned his own (ghost-written) autobiography, 'Mémoires de Vidocq, chef de la police de Sûreté, jusqu'en' (1827-1828)
    Also wrote 'Les voleurs, a study of thieves and imposters,' (1836), 'Dictionnaire d'Argot, a dictionary of argot' (1836), 'Considérations sommaires sur les prisons, les bagnes et la peine de mort' (1844), 'Les chauffeurs du nord (1845), 'Les vrais mystères de Paris (1844)
    Namesake for the Vidocq Society founded in Philadelphia by forensic artist/sculptor Frank Bender in 1990
    Portrayed by George Sanders in Douglas Sirk's romantic thriller, 'A Scandal in Paris' (1946)
    He failed in his attempts to become an actor/playwright.
    He briefly traveled with a band of Bohemian gypsies.
    He squandered his money on prostitutes, early on.
    He posed as a nobleman during the French Revolution in order to marry a wealthy widow, but the marriage fell through when he was found out.
    He was sentenced to three months in prison for beating his mistress and the soldier she was cheating on him with, rather than for Valjean's offense of 'stealing a loaf of bread' (September, 1795).
    He was accused of helping to forge parole documents for another convict (this one actually HAD been imprisoned for an inordinate amount of time for stolen bread - or wheat, anyway).
    This conviction, along with his repeated, unsuccessful, attempts to escape from prison resulted in years being tacked onto his initial three-month sentence.
    One of his many failed prison escapes involved him donning a nun's habit and sneaking away undetected by the gendarmes. He was eventually rearrested while posing as a privateer.
    He was the original thief sent to catch a thief - contracting out his services to bargain his way out of prison. He would spend the next 35 years putting other people behind bars, and not all of them necessarily criminals.
    Rumors accused him of setting criminals up, organizing break-ins and robberies and then having his agents wait to collect the offenders.
    He was, however briefly, sent back to prison one last time, again on charges of fraud, ironically (the charges were later dropped).
    It remains a mystery as to were, exactly, he was buried. His biographers point to the Saint Mandé cemetery, where a tombstone reading 'Vidocq 18' is located (city records list it as registered to his wife).
    He was arguably the first 'private detective.'
    He was a pioneer in the field of forensic science.
    He commissioned the creation of indelible ink.
    He was the master of disguise (beggars, cuckolds, pimps, travelers, etc.)
    He had a photographic memory that allowed him to recognize previously convicted criminals, even in disguise.
    His years of hard labor in the galleys paid off in more than one way - one of his inmates taught him the art of salvate (an early form of mixed martial arts).
    His life story was so rich with intrigue that he was inspiration for both the hero and antagonist of Victor Hugo's 'Les Miserables' masterpiece (and, by proxy, the musical adaptation of the same name).
    His life story also influenced the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Honore de Balzac, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, and Herman Melville.
    He was credited with reforming the French police force, consolidating its two separate branches and convincing his superiors to greenlight 'undercover police' strategies to catch criminals red-handed.
    He pioneered the use of clues from crime scenes to determine the perpetrator based on his knowledge of specific criminals and their modus operandi.
    He was involved in well over 1,000 arrests, including those of 15 assassins and 38 fences. By 1820, he was credited with reducing crime in Paris substantially.
    His works were studied by leading figures in the development of the criminal justice field; most notably Scotlant Yard founder, Robert Peel, and August Vollmer, Berkeley's first police chief.
    Vollmer's interpretation of his ideas were adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and, as a result, also influenced the tactics of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI as a whole.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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