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Kidnapping Wave Sweeps The Nation

March 3, 1932

The kidnapping of Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., topping a long list of kidnappings in recent years, serves to emphasize the fact that abduction for ransom has become "a big money crime," taking its place beside the liquor, vice and drug traffic among the prominent "rackets" of the country.

Authorities pointed out yesterday that there had been a big wave of kidnapping during the past two years, when more than 2,000 persons were abducted for ransom in the country. During these two years kidnapping syndicates have arisen and have extorted millions of dollars from their victims or their relatives and friends by means of torture or terrorization.

It is estimated that in Illinois alone, during 1930 and 1931, there were 400 kidnappings, according to Alexander Jamie, chief investigator for the "Secret Six," a Chicago organization devoted to fighting organized crime. Forty-nine of the Illinois victims were reported officially as having paid ransom, many others were released without ransom and hundreds made no official reports.

In a desperate effort to stem the kidnapping wave, mid-West crime fighters have united to obtain Federal legislation that would deter abductions by making transportation of a kidnapped person from one State to another a capital crime. Petitions have been presented to the Federal Government asking for enactment of such a law. Among those favoring this legislation are Colonel Robert Isham Randolph, head of Chicago's "Secret Six"; Walter B. Weisenburger, president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, and others.

Recalling recent kidnapping by extortionists, who strike at big money by seizing helpless victims, authorities here said yesterday it might be such a gang as that reported operating here last year which took the Lindbergh baby.

Several months ago rumors of a kidnap plot threw high professional and theatrical circles into fright. The police had received information that a highly-organized group had marked a list of wealthy folk in these circles for kidnapping. Detectives disclosed that among the wealthy persons under constant guard to protect them from abduction was Frank Keeney, Brooklyn theatrical man and former Florida race track owner. Detectives said that extortion on a large scale had been attempted by a band operating from Philadelphia. No arrests were made.

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