Crime: Diary of a Vandalized Car

At 3:15 on a recent Friday afternoon, a 1959 green Oldsmobile was parked alongside the curb in a middle-class residential neighborhood of New York City. Two men got out, removed the license plates, and opened the hood slightly to make the car look as if it had been stolen or left alone while its owner went for help. Then they withdrew to a nearby window, where—unseen—they could watch what was to happen.

Vice squad cops bent on entrapment?

No. In fact, the two men were psychologists, interested in the varieties of human response to the sight of an obviously unguarded,...

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