World’s Greatest Private Detective
It is no secret, that the father of modern criminology is Eugene Francois Vidocq, probably such a 婚前調查 good criminologist because he was also a good criminal. Vidocq’s problems with law started during his early teenage years. At the age of 14, he cleaned the cash register of his parent’s bakery and run away with a considerable amount of money. He then joined a travelling circus, before getting fired for flirting with his patron’s young wife.
Forced to return home, he joined the French Regiment at the age of 16. From a very young age Vidocq had three weak spots: fencing, women and obeying authority. He was an distinguished fencer and has rarely (if ever) backed down from a duel. After being promoted to a corporal grade and striking his superior in the face, he fled the army. He had no other choice at the time, since assaulting a superior officer may have earned him a death sentence. Considered a deserter, at the age of 19 he has duped military controllers by providing them with an alias “Rousseau” and fleeing while they attempted to verify his identity.
At the age of 20, he has relocated to Paris and joined local gypsies. Soon after, he has fallen in love with Francine Longuet. Soon after he caught her cheating with another soldier, Vidocq lost control and assaulted both of them. This resulted in his sentencing to 3 months in jail. However his imprisonment was prolonged, after he was charged with forging a pardon document for a fellow inmate, Sebastien Boitel, a notorious thief purging a 6 year sentence.
Francine aided him in several of his prison escapes, although he ended up being captured most of the times. During one of his attempts, Francine has caught him in a hideout with another woman. Several days later Francine was found with multiple stab wounds, Vidocq was now also wanted for an attempted murder. Shortly after this, Francie admitted that the wounds were self-inflicted and all related charges against Vidocq were dropped. However Vidocq was sentenced to 8 years regardless, on the basis of his numerous prison escapes.
After serving only two years, he used uniform of a sailor to escape from the Brest’s prison, when apprehended and placed in a hospital due to acquired injuries, he managed to break free once more in a disguise of a nun. After going in and out of jail and attempting to make honest living, he has gone to the police and made a proposition to become their informant. He has worked as an inmate spy, making reports on fellow prisoners for a period of 21 months, he was then granted his release. Not to raise suspicion within the criminal circle, his release was staged as another escape. This was the beginning of Vidocq’s career as a Private Detective.
In 1811, at the age of 36, he has organized the first French Security Brigade within Paris’s police department. The Security Brigade, was the first unit to be dressed as civilians while investigating crimes. Two years later, Napoleon Bonaparte himself, signed a decree in which he has officially recognized the unit as a National Security Brigade, which carries this name to this date.
Vidocq was the first to highlight the importance of insider information, spying and mole operations. He was the pioneer of covert investigation and initiated the world to alternative techniques of crime solving. Great authors of his time, such as Victor Hugo and Honore de Balzac, were greatly inspired by the life and death of this man. Vidocq laid the foundation of today`s investigative work, the basics of forensics and private investigation.
Although Vidocq made considerable amount of money during his legal career path, several reckless investments caused him to die in quasi poverty. Vidocq was a man of character, charisma and determination. He was the link between the criminals and the law and provided previously unknown ways of obtaining information and important clues. Seeking prosperity, he failed at securing it at the end of his life, but he forever enriched the world of criminology.