Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “crime”

Elder abuse (MedlinePlus)

Elder abuse (MedlinePlus) –http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/elderabuse.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are some of the ways that people can locate vulnerable elderly to fleece?
  • What are conditions that increase and elder’s chances of being abused?
  • What is Adult Protective Services and how do they interact with the elderly?


This page links to information on these particular kinds of abuse under “specific conditions”:

  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect and self-neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse

Other notable resources include:

  • Role of Culture in Elder Abuse under “Related Resources”
  • National Center on Elder Abuse under “Organizations”
  • Mental Capacity, Consent and Undue Influence under “Law and Policy”



Domestic violence (MedlinePlus)

Domestic violence (MedlinePlus) – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/domesticviolence.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are some signs that a partner is being abused?
  • What’s the relationship between domestic violence and mental disorders?
  • What might a battered spouse’s “safety plan” consist of?


This MedlinePlus topic page follows the structure laid out in the entry for MedlinePlus Health Topics.

Notable features on this page include:

  • Safety Planning, under “Related Issues”
  • Articles on screening for Domestic violence under “Journal Articles”
  • “Clinical Trials” – Links to studies on intervention
  • How Do I Apply for Immigration Benefits as a Battered Spouse or Child? under “Law and Policy”
  • Domestic Violence against Men: Know the Signs, Seek Help under “Men”

This particular page has been translated into Arabic, Bosnian, Russian, Somali and Spanish.

War Crimes Trials from US Holocaust Museum

War Crimes Trials from US Holocaust Museum – http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005140

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I learn about what medical experiments carried out by the Nazis on their prisoners?
  • Where can I learn more about the Treblinka death camp?


One of the worst things that could happen to any character is to be in a death camp. This site links to survivor stories and provides examples of how perpetrators were brought to justice.

NOAA – theft while traveling

NOAA theft while traveling – http://www.wrc.noaa.gov/wrso/security_guide/theft-2.htm

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Why would spy characters spurn hotel safes?
  • How can you make a burglar alarm from ash trays and a glass of water?
  • How could a character get robbed on a train?
  • Do criminals really break in windows on multistory buildings?


Describes scenarios of theft in airports, hotels and other travel locations. Also suggests countermeasures to employ to avoid being a victim. Aside from being useful in creating complications in travel stories, the information here might be useful in espionage stories as well.

This section on theft is part of a larger employee security site worth checking out.

Knock-Out Drugs: Their Prevalence, Modes of Action, and Means of Detection (PubMed Central article)

Knock-Out Drugs: Their Prevalence, Modes of Action, and Means of Detection (PubMed Central article) – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2689633/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are some real life case studies involving knock-out drugs?
  • How would an informed health professional take a clinical history where knock-out drugs were suspected?
  • How and when ought samples be taken when a knockout drug is suspected?


This translated article from the German medical journal Deutsches Arzteblatt International was indexed by the National Library of Medicine in their PubMed Central database.

Based on a review of incidents from Germany and Great Britain, the authors conclude that Alcohol seems to be the leading choice for a date rape drug, followed by illegal drugs (cannabis, cocaine). This study found that involuntarily consumed medications and drugs only appeared in two percent of cases. The ones most commonly found were benzodiazepines and other hypnotics. The article does not that most knock out drugs are quickly eliminated from the system, making detection difficult.

The article also includes some case studies and also has sections on:

  • Clinical history-taking in suspected cases
  • Medical procedure and the obtaining of samples when the administration of knock-out drugs is suspected
  • Key messages

FBI Coping With Crime Victimization

FBI Coping With Crime Victimization –https://www.fbi.gov/resources/victim-assistance/coping-with-victimization

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are some physical effects associated with being a crime victim?
  • How should a parent deal with a child who has been a crime victim?
  • What happens to a victim of financial crime?


General information for what victims of crimes go through, how to cope and what organizations can help which kinds of victims. Talks about symptoms of PTSD without actually calling it that. Links to brochures on specific types of victimization, including child pornography, bank robbery, financial crime and human trafficking.

Alaska State Troopers Daily Dispatch

Alaska State Troopers Daily Dispatch

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What does a typical day of crime look like in Alaska?
  • What are some true stories of Alaska search and rescue?
  • Where can I find some brief accounts of female perpetrated domestic violence?


This site looks deceptively boring. It’s just a list of dates. But click on any date and you’ll see a set of short reports organized by region. There are shootings, domestic violence, car thefts and more. All are described in a Joe Friday, “Just the Facts” fashion along with a disclaimer that people named in the dispatches are innocent until proven guilty. Perusing a month’s worth of these dispatches will give you an idea of what sorts of Alaskan crimes are prevalent where.

The Dispatch also includes search and rescue efforts. Searching on (rescue inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch/) brought up about  189 results as of this writing. Rescues included two hypothermic teens on 12/23/2013 and an 8/6/2012 rescue of rafters in the wilderness in difficult terrain.

Search Tips/Story Ideas:

Writers and other interested parties can tease out particular types of incidents using Google or another search engine that supports the “inurl” operator. The form of the search is:

[word or phrase] inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch/

For example, searching on (shooting inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch) brought up 181 results, including a 6/14/2013 incident where someone was shot in the leg while riding in the back of a pickup truck.

This site could be very helpful with giving police characters things to do, criminal characters a back story, or deciding what sorts of crime to burden an Alaskan or rural town with.

Most states have an equivalent of the Alaska State Troopers and many of them produce similar reports. Try searching [your state here] police or troopers in your favorite search engine. Then looks for a press or public affairs page.

FBI Art Theft page

FBI Art Theft page –https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/art-theft/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are some cases of art theft?
  • What sorts of security measures are recommended for art objects?
  • Where can I find examples of stolen currency and coins?


Art thieves have been prominent in books, film and television. Aside from providing information on resources the FBI devotes to art crime, this page links to the top 10 open art thefts.

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