Incidents of this nature occasionally mar the Passover proceedings, and that the police department took steps this year to forestall recurrences.
Beersheva, April 10 – Law enforcement authorities announced today that they have arrested several juveniles who, they allege, planned to take surreptitious possession of a ritual piece of unleavened bread and demand exorbitant items, services, or sums in exchange for its safe return.
Police spokesman Lech Hemoni told reporters that an undercover officer had infiltrated the ring and secured evidence that the four suspected conspirators intended to disrupt a Passover Seder by holding for ransom the Afikoman, the piece of matza whose consumption marks the end of the festive meal portion of the evening.
“Further arrests are expected as the investigation continues,” asserted Hemoni. “But for now, we believe we have apprehended the ringleaders of this plot.” The names of the four are being withheld, in accordance with procedures involving minors.
Hemoni explained that incidents of this nature occasionally mar the Passover proceedings, and that the police department took steps this year to forestall recurrences. “Our informants received indications that a similar racket was unfolding in the Beersheva area, and deployed undercover forces to identify and apprehend the culprits before they could commit the crime. As you can see, this strategy has proved successful, and we anticipate a drop in Afikoman-related crime as a result of this effort.”
Statistics bear out the spokesman’s statements, according to crime analysts. “It’s more or less a yearly thing, this ransom business,” acknowledged Raul Akhilas-Kelev, who studies racketeering incidents. “One never knows precisely who will perpetrate it, but it clusters in a certain demographic, and unfortunately that demographic is pretty young. We seldom encounter an Afikoman-ransom criminal beyond the age of sixteen. Obviously, that means there’s a culture promoting such behavior, which means somewhere along the line adults are involved.”
“I encourage the victims of such extortion not to pay any ransom, as this only invites further behavior on the part of the criminals, especially those that are at such an impressionable age,” he continued. “Even if their demands involve items that appear trivial, in the mind of the developing criminal it is no conceptual leap at all to demanding ever-more-grandiose ransoms, and embarking an a life of crime. I have suggested to local police departments that every year in the weeks preceding Passover, they conduct community outreach to raise awareness of the dangers inherent in so-called ‘playing along’ with the ransom demands. For a holiday that has traditionally celebrated the transmission of values and stories from one generation to the next, Passover has become fraught with illicit dangers.”
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