NBC‘s Chris Hansen joins today’s mediabistro.com Morning Media Menu podcast to discuss his new Sin City-based Dateline special “Vegas Undercover.” The special, which premieres tonight, follows a few different types of undercover investigations led by the Las Vegas police, including buying back stolen items, cracking down on prostitution and catching thieves in the act of stealing cars.
“This is a story about hard core criminals,” Hansen said. “These are people who get up every morning and look for something to steal or someone to scam in order to make their living. That’s what they do. But because the town is…24/7 and always filled with people…it creates targets for criminals…It also creates this very colorful backdrop on which to examine this very seedy part of society.”
However, Hansen has become recognizable due to the popularity of his “To Catch A Predator” specials, which now affects his ability to do undercover work — usually for the better.
“There is that recognition and…in this case and in most cases, it works in our favor,” Hansen said. “There is this moment when people are like, ‘Hey, you’re that guy,’ then, ‘Hey, I’m in that show.’ It also sort of disarms them in a way and for whatever reason it makes them feel more comfortable talking to me.”
Hansen said that “Vegas Undercover” features a lot of bold criminals, although the craziest thing he witnessed was a man demonstrating how to turn a $5 bill into $100. The oblivious criminal was actually showing undercover police how to counterfeit money and he was subsequently arrested.
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