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  • Courtesy Calls/Public Expectations

    I was recently in the DFW area while attending some training and stayed at the Hampton Inn in Grapevine. While I was there I did the unthinkable and left some property in my truck. Surprise!!!! A burglar got me. Smashed out not 1, but 2 windows and stole all my tools (about $500 worth), a pistol and a digital camera. Also did almost $800 worth of damage to my truck, not including the windows.

    Two Grapevine PD officers found the burglary right as I was getting my breakfast and did all they could at the scene, processing the truck and questioning a possible suspect. I was very pleased with their response.My only gripe about the whole affair is the follow-up by their CID. Not even a courtesy call, NADA.

    While I was in CID, I worked burglary/auto theft and if I got a case I at least made a courtesy call, even if I didn't have anything to follow up. I figured the least I could do was to let the victim know I had the case and where it was at.

    Am I expecting too much here?
    "Trust me. I'm from the government, I'm here to help."

  • #2
    Bummer about your stuff Ken. Our agency (80 sworn) operates on a generalist theory. Detectives only get cases that patrol officers cannot follow up on. Otherwise patrolman are expected to conduct their own follow up so CID is never involved in 80+ of most property crimes (we do get copies of all reports so we can look for trends and match up stolen property to recoveries.

    Different agencies have different expectations. When I get a case referred to me from patrol I always make a courtesy call to let the victim know we'll do our best.
    If you see me running try to keep up!

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    • #3
      Where I work I had a problem with criminals and could never even get a call back. Never heard a word. They are probably too busy.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mike Sullivan:
        Where I work I had a problem with criminals and could never even get a call back. Never heard a word. They are probably too busy.
        Yeah, the criminals in my area can hardly find the time for me too. Bastards, how dare the criminals lack customer service skills?

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        • #5
          Hate to hear of your trouble, Ken. We just spent last weekend in Grapevine. Seemed like a nice enough place.

          Our CID has a policy of sending out a letter when they get assigned to a misdemeanor case with no suspects & nothing to go on that says that the case will remain open but that there will be no follow-up done at that time. I disagree with the sending of the letter & think someone should at least call the complainant & tell them in person. But then, that's just me. I do realize that six detectives are getting assigned some 3-10 cases a day & that they are strapped for time but it just seems the proper thing to do.

          Maybe they'll get around to you soon. Good luck!

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          • #6
            Wow! This is a good thread. I was made a Detective about 8 months ago and I handle burglaries/thefts/vehicle burglaries, etc. I have never called a victim, I never even thought about it. I figured that they don't want me to call them and tell them "Sorry, but your case is inactive and there's nothing that we can do." I just thought that they knew that and don't need salt on their wound.
            KenM, brings up a good point. I suppose I could try to give these folks a courtesy call. I wonder if many even care for one? I get about 10 cases a day, that's going to be alot of phone calls.

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            • #7
              I've been working auto theft for nearly 6 years now. At least for us, in a rather large metro area of over 1 million, it's a question of prioritizing our cases.

              Stat 5: (mostly vehicle burglaries and larcenies) No suspects,no witnesses, no serial numbers or identifying marks, no processable crime scene, no hope of solving the case, no phone call or letter. If the victim calls me, I'll speak to them about the case but it's pretty much dead in the water.

              Reports with some suspect info, witnesses, or traceable property: Rate at least a phone call for follow-up. Most of the time it's unproductive, but sometimes you get a good one. Only serialized items, or with OAN's are entered NCIC, the rest are maintained locally and searched against pawn shop records for about (2) weeks. After that, it's unlikely to be found in the pawnshops, more likely to be sold on the street.

              Unverified vehicle theft reports: No tag, VIN, or owner documentation on file state or local. These are mostly "we tote the note" car buyers and those that have pawned their titles at the title loan shop; get (1) phone call a day for 72 hours requesting proof of ownership, then (1) letter. No response rates an unfounded case.

              Verified thefts, no suspects: Entry NCIC, BOLO's, listed on hot sheet to ward cars. Usually no phone calls to victim unless there's weapons known to have been in the vehicle or there's other facts that may require a follow-up call.

              Vehicle thefts with suspects: If the suspect is known to the victim, no report made on scene. Victims are required to come to the office in person and speak to the investigator to determine if it's a true theft or an unauthorized use. UA is a misdemeanor requiring a warrant.

              Same with failure to return rentals, office visit with copy of rental contract, copies of demand letter by certified mail to the renter, the clerk that made the transaction for written statement-photo spread; written affidavit that states that the company will prosecute the offender, failure to attest to warrant results in no report or unfounded case and no NCIC entry. You just made it a civil action.

              Pretty much the same process for dealerships and their "missing from inventory and presumed stolen"; also requires signed affidavit under penalty of false reporting that the vehicle has not been sold, loaned, or traded, and that all efforts have been made to locate the vehicle prior to reporting. Original titles or MSO required to establish ownership. Failure to prosecute has same result as rentals.

              Any vehicle recovery with arrest or not gets a phone call or letter. Any reported thefts that turn out out to be repo's or towaways, get a phone or letter.

              It's not unusual for us to get between 17-30 cases a day depending on time of year and the number of investigators working. Add to that walk-in's, call-outs, ongoing investigation follow-ups and arrests made during working hours, we simply can't call everyone.

              Of course some people are gonna be ****ed that they didn't get a call from an investigator, but that's just life in the big ****ty...er big city.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chopshopcop:
                Reports with some suspect info, witnesses, or traceable property: Rate at least a phone call for follow-up. Most of the time it's unproductive, but sometimes you get a good one. Only serialized items, or with OAN's are entered NCIC, the rest are maintained locally and searched against pawn shop records for about (2) weeks.
                That's what bothers me. I had the serial number for the pistol and the camera and a lot of specialty tools that were marked. There was also a suspect (hotel's night clerk) and possibly some witnesses (other hotel staff). I think that would justify a call.
                "Trust me. I'm from the government, I'm here to help."

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                • #9
                  As an outsider, I can tell you that a courtesy call can be worth it's weight in gold. Forget the bike-a-thons and make a personal phone call to a crime victim and let them know the status of their case once in a while (or even just once).

                  My girlfriend's father died after being struck by a car while he was biking in his own neighborhood. He was an experienced biker and there was no reason to believe the accident was his fault. The driver of the car made several statements at the scene that indicated that she was at fault. My girlfriend's family heard virtually nothing from the police afterward. Of course they wanted to know if the driver was going to be prosecuted, and if not, why not. Nothing. Months later when they tried to get more information, the police would give them next to nothing. What would it hurt to give the family a 10 minute discussion of the incident, investigation, and conclusion? This would go so far to help community relations with the police. (These people are already big cop supporters, attending fund raisers for police, etc.)

                  [ 11-04-2001: Message edited by: ThaliaMoser ]

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by KenM:


                    That's what bothers me. I had the serial number for the pistol and the camera and a lot of specialty tools that were marked. There was also a suspect (hotel's night clerk) and possibly some witnesses (other hotel staff). I think that would justify a call.
                    Absolutely it should have rated a phone call, probably more than one. Common sense says to call and find out the serial number on the weapon, and to verify the number prior to NCIC entry. At least for me, guns have a priority over most other property.

                    Once the initial phone call is made, logically the next questions are: "What other types of property were taken and do you have numbers?" and "Are there any known witnesses or possible suspects?"

                    The type of offense will often dictate whether a follow-up call is made. Personal crimes such as robbery, sexual assaults, agg. assaults, any crimes of violence, or any incident where a death is involved, had damn well better result in some type of contact. Death investigations most often get at least one face-to-face contact with the family, at least here it does.

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