Pioneer Square/Fri March 5/6:20 am: Officer Gregory Fliegel reports: "At approximately 0610 hours, I was dispatched to investigate a robbery that had just occurred. I arrived and contacted complainant, who stated that the suspect had taken a bag of sunflower seeds off the shelf and walked out of the store without making any attempt to pay for them. The complainant then followed suspect out of the store and confronted her about the merchandise. When he told her to pay, she pulled out a key and stated something to the effect of 'Go ahead and I'll stab you with this.'

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"The complainant went back into the store and while there, the suspect returned and this time grabbed several candy bars off of the shelf, and again exited without making any attempt to pay for the merchandise.

"While conducting my interview, I was advised that [another officer] had captured a possible suspect on Fourth Avenue South. The suspect began acting hysterical and for safety reasons, she was placed in handcuffs. I transported complainant to the location, and while there he positively ID'd her. She also had a bag of sunflower seeds and two Hershey candy bars with her. The merchandise was photographed and returned to complainant. A receipt showing the merchandise value was submitted into evidence."

One might say that the crime in this report is really insignificant, a complete waste of time to record in such detail, too trivial a task for a police officer. But that is not the right attitude. A better attitude would enable you to see the most important thing that happens in this report: a criminal produces a crime.

Let's turn for a moment to a wonderful passage in Marx's Theories of Surplus Value: "A philosopher produces ideas, a poet poems, a clergyman sermons, a professor compendia, and so on. A criminal produces crimes. If we look a little closer at the connection between this latter branch of production and society as a whole, we shall rid ourselves of many prejudices. The criminal produces not only crimes but also criminal law..."

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Marx is not joking. He is dead serious. If the criminal stops doing what he/she does, producing crime, not only will the institution of criminal law vanish but also a lot of jobs (many of which have great health-care insurance and pensions). Marx continues: "The criminal produces the whole of the police and of criminal justice, constables, judges, hangmen, juries, etc.; and all these different lines of business, which form equally many categories of the social division of labour, develop different capacities of the human spirit, create new needs and new ways of satisfying them."

Best of all, however, Marx explains that the criminal's crimes produce high and low art: "He produces not only compendia on Criminal Law, not only penal codes and along with them legislators in this field, but also art, belles lettres, novels, and even tragedies, as not only Müllner's Schuld and Schiller's Räuber, but also Sophocles's Oedipus and Shakespeare's Richard the Third. The criminal breaks the monotony and everyday security of bourgeois life." As you can see, the crime in the report is by no means trivial; it is very, very productive. recommended