This story exposes a flaw in the criminal justice system which at least one person has learned to exploit.
It was the definition of a really bad day for an Oakdale woman. She parked her car at work, came out later and it was gone. When the woman told police about it they didn't believe her, because of what the thief had told them first. "He notified the Bloomington police department he was going to repossess a car. Then he went out and stole the car," said Doug Johnson, Washington County Attorney.
In this case, the intentional misdirection by a criminal didn't stop the investigation cold either because of this car owner's persistence or because the police decided that the conflicting accounts meant that further investigation was required.
Because this news story indicates that this fake repo man has succeeded at extorting money from other car owners to get their cars back, it seems that this misdirection has worked for him in the past.
Attempts to undermine the credibility of a real crime victim if that person reports the crime is newsworthy when it comes to car theft, but it is mundane when it comes to rape. Instead of one individual calling the police, the undermining of rape cases is more pervasive and sometimes comes from members of the police themselves or from those who are supposed to help rape victims.
We see this type of undermining whenever people say, "Women lie about rape" as a reason for a report of rape to be rejected immediately as either false or unprovable. Same goes when people supposedly in the know give lists of the indicators that a report of rape is false.
Instant rejection of a crime report, whether the crime be car theft or rape, gives protective cover to adaptable criminals who plan not only how to commit their crimes but how to get away with them.
Too many people advocate for instant rejection of many reports of sex crimes -- either as a cost savings or to protect the innocent from being falsely accused -- and like this man's call to police, we need to view their advocacy with suspicion. We also need to call their proposals what they are: calls for shoddy police work.
Oh, yeah, and like many rape cases where one thorough investigation reveals a pattern of criminal behavior, the police want others who have been victims of this man, Donald Alexander Steele, to come forward. The cops will believe you now.