Vidocq, Eugène François (ûzhĕnˈ fräNswäˈ vēdôkˈ) [key], 1775–1857, French detective. After a career of crime for which he had been imprisoned, he joined the Paris Sûreté (security police) as a police spy in 1809. He became head of the detective branch, but incurred the enmity of his colleagues. In 1832 he was removed from office on the charge of instigating a crime for the purpose of uncovering it. He is the prototype of M. Lecoq in the stories of Émile Gaboriau. Vidocq's memoirs (4 vol., 1828–29; partial tr. by E. G. Rich, 1935) were written with the assistance of L. F. L'Héritier de l'ain, who is said to have taken great liberties with the facts. Vidocq only authorized volumes I and II.
See biography by J. P. Stead (1954).