עמוד:62

20 The Man of Many Faces Who was the first detective ? Most people will probably say it was Sherlock Holmes , but he was only a character in a book . The first detective was actually a Frenchman named Eugène François Vidocq . Today , Vidocq isn’t as famous as Sherlock Holmes , but his story is much more interesting and it is true . Born in 1775 , Vidocq was one of seven children . When he was only 14 , he ran away from home and joined the army , but not long after that he ran away again . For the next couple of years , Vidocq was always in trouble . The police arrested him many times , but he always managed to escape . Among the criminals of Paris , Vidocq became known as “ the one who always got away” . As Vidocq got older , he decided to become an honest citizen . In 1809 , Vidocq began to work for the police and became an undercover police detective inside a prison . He was an excellent actor and could pretend to be anyone . Vidocq persuaded the prisoners to tell him their secrets , and then he passed the information on to the police . In 1812 , Vidocq started the first police undercover unit * . By 1817 , 12 men had joined Vidocq’s team . Each one had once been a criminal , yet they were excellent policemen . Vidocq was a very skilled policeman who used logic to solve crimes . He invented techniques still used by modern day detectives , such as keeping a file of criminal profiles and cases * . He was also the first detective to understand the importance of bullets and footprints . Vidocq realized that one single bullet could link a gun to a crime and that a footprint could place a criminal at the scene of a crime . Vidocq’s unit caught over 800 criminals . Because of their success , other police officers hated him and his unit . Although he was very unpopular with the other police officers , Vidocq became a hero among the French people . He helped the poor people of Paris and caught many criminals . When he published his autobiography , it became a best-seller in Europe . Since his death in 1857 , there have been many detectives – real and imaginary – but none of them have ever been as fascinating as Eugène François Vidocq .

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