Being a police officer can be tough work, especially when it comes to investigating recurring crime in a particular area. When there are repeat offenses of a similar nature going on in one area, it becomes less a case of needing to investigate what happened and more one of establishing the best way to catch the offenders.
While this is a difficult task that requires looking for patterns and identifying situations that lead to crime, it's also the kind of thing where the solutions proposed by police forces have the potential to backfire tremendously. Oftentimes, looking for patterns can lead to law enforcement treating everybody as if they're a criminal, or worse, profiling people based on things like their skin color or how they dress.
That last part is the one that becomes especially pertinent in this new bizarre, unsettling case. As gangs are roaming the streets of the Dutch city of Rotterdam and confiscating jewelry from people, the locals can't even call the police about it. Why, you might ask? Because the thieves ARE the police, and they are going to "undress" anyone wearing clothing or jewelry they "shouldn't be able to afford."
This frankly insane official project is sanctioned by the police department against youths, and as Rotterdam police chief Frank Paauw told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf;
“They are often young guests who consider themselves untouchable. We’re going to undress them on the street. We regularly take a Rolex from a suspect. Clothes rarely. And that is especially a status symbol for young people. Some young people now walk with jackets of €1800. They do not have any income, so the question is how they get there.”
The Independent also explains that “The scheme comes after a previous pilot which looked at the expensive cars suspected criminals drove despite not having an income.” Scheme is pretty much the right word for it, aside from "profiling" and "abuse of power."
City ombudsman Anne Mieke Zwaneveld told AD: “We realized that [they] do not want to create the appearance that there is ethnic profiling but the chances of this happening are very large.”