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The Rat Racket   By: (1880-1966)

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With Dr. Keller's genius for hitting at vital spots every time, he now gives us a brand new idea and an ingenious solution. We hope no racketeers read this story. They might, as a result, cause the police some trouble. Fortunately, however, the racket has a flaw.

Richard Moyer, senior partner of the firm of Moyer & Perkins, read that letter over twice before he called in the man who had helped him make the importing of high grade groceries from England a most profitable business for over twenty years.

He simply handed the letter over to Paul Perkins without a word of explanation. The latter read it through and handed it back in equal silence, but the hand that held the letter trembled.

"Just another racket," exclaimed Moyer, finally.

"Looks like it. I suppose we were foolish to start in paying for protection. First our trucks were threatened; then the new building; after that our best customers were bombed, and we had to pay to protect them. Your son was kidnapped and the police! They even went so far as to advise that we keep on paying and now this letter! We might as well close out the business. All our profits go toward supporting a gang of criminals who have muscled into every type of American industry."

[Illustration: They were running out through the picture. A crazed man tore it from the wall.]

"On the face of it the letter looks innocent enough," sighed Perkins, as he picked it up and gave it another reading. "Simply says that the rat menace is increasing, cites several business houses where the rodents have done a great deal of damage, and offers to give our warehouses complete protection for five thousand a week. You could show that letter to a hundred police officials and they would laugh at your fears. But I am not laughing. Because that letter was written on the same damaged typewriter that the other letters were written on and those gangsters have not failed to make any of their threats good."

"Suppose we pretend that they are honest, and answer their letter and send them a check for the first week's protection?"

"They will laugh at you and send back the check."

"They may, at that. Then we will give them the cash. In either case, it will give us time to think. I feel that they are only experimenting with us. They are after larger game than five thousand a week. We shall see and hear more of this rat business in a while. Write to them and tell them that we will pay the cash, and put the entire matter in the hands of the Chamber of Commerce. If it does not act soon, the entire city will be in the hands of the gangsters."

The complaint of Moyer & Perkins was only one of a dozen similar ones which reached the Chamber of Commerce that day. In a secluded room of the Manufacturers' Club a dozen wealthy men met day after day, hearing and weighing evidence against a hundred forms of racketeering which was rapidly becoming a terrible and powerful enemy to the varied industries of the Metropolis. Practically every business had been threatened and more than one captain of industry blustered openly, but paid his weekly tribute silently in order to protect his business, family, and home.

Up to this time the usual weapon had been the strong arm man and the bomb. While these were bad enough, they were at least understood. When it came to rats, it was different. Of course, everybody knew something about rats that they were supposed to be numerous around the river fronts and warehouses but on the other hand, rats were seldom seen in daylight, and there were many New Yorkers who never saw one.

Not one of the dozen men had been raised on a farm and none had served in the trenches during the World War. They did not understand rats, so, they hesitated, and finally simply advised the merchants who had received the rat letters to use their own judgement. As a result, some paid tribute and some did not. There is no evidence to show that those who paid were one hundred per cent free from rats in their warehouses, but within a week there was ample proof that at least three wholesale groceries and one laundry had been invaded overnight by rats in sufficient quantity to cause thousands of dollars' worth of damages... Continue reading book >>

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