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Keep cool and remember details during a robbery


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    Keep cool and remember details during a robbery

    By Macollvie Jean-François | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    July 19, 2008
    The average robbery takes less than three minutes.

    For victims and bystanders, the experience can have lasting, traumatic impact. But in those few minutes, people can also register enough information to help nab the thieves.

    "A victim could be a really good witness, usually our best witness," said Miramar robbery Detective Mauricio Arbelaez.

    If you are in a business that is being robbed, officers stress staying safe is most important. Do not put lives in danger by resisting a robber's orders, or by trying to save the day. Instead, take mental notes of details you are seeing.

    "Don't try to be a hero. Do exactly what you're told to do," said Sgt. George Grosso, a robbery detective with the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office. "Remember what they were wearing, remember what they look like, so when detectives get there you can tell them."

    As the economic slump continues, robberies could become more common, some law enforcement officers and criminologists say. That means anyone may be caught in the fray.

    "Unfortunately, I am afraid that due to the economy, we will see a rise in this type of crime," said Keith Stripling, president of Florida's Crime Prevention Association.

    Two months ago in Davie, masked armed bank robbers shoved a pregnant customer, sending her to the hospital for treatment. The woman's young son was with her at the time. A week later in Boynton Beach, three men were robbing a Burger King when their gun went off, almost striking two customers at the drive-through.

    A jewelry store robbery Arbelaez worked illustrates how the victim's presence of mind can lead to an arrest.

    Two gunmen burst into Emily's Jewelry in the 14400 block of Miramar Parkway in April and demanded gems and money, police said. One robber kept the gun trained on the owners as his accomplice grabbed items. The victims noticed the gunman's deformed right hand and a round scar above his right eye.

    Police later arrested David Young, 27, on charges of robbery with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm. He is being held at the Broward Sheriff's North Jail.

    "The main lead was his deformity," Arbelaez said . "We got a tip on that. With that alone, I was able to make the arrest."

    Experts say if you are caught in a robbery:

    • Do not try to be a hero.

    • Stay calm. Do not make any sudden moves that may alarm the robber.

    • Do not resist. Do exactly as you are told, but do not volunteer more than asked for.

    • If you need to move, tell the robber first.

    • Inform the robber of anything that may surprise him — such as an expected delivery.

    • If it is safe to do so, obtain a description of the vehicle.

    • Stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives. If you must go, leave your name and contact information.

    • Do not touch anything. If possible, block the area where the robber stood.

    • Make mental notes of the robber's appearance and characteristics, such as speech impediments and accents, and mannerisms.

    • Note the robber's race, age, height, sex, clothing, complexion, hair, eye color, scars and tattoos.

    • Note the number of accomplices and how they left the scene, direction of travel, type and color of vehicle.

    • Make mental notes of conversations the suspects may have had with one another.

    • Note what the suspect's weapon looked like so you can describe it later.

    • Try to remember what the suspect touches so that fingerprints may be lifted.

    "It's tough to say: do we live in fear, or do we live our lives?" said Arbelaez, who has been with Miramar police for eight years. "What we should keep in mind is that things are possible, anything is possible. The mind set we should have is: live a normal life, and be prepared to remain calm and collected."

    Macollvie Jean-François can be reached at [email protected] or 954-385-7922.

    Stay Safe appears Saturdays in the Local section and at Sun-Sentinel.com/crime. Send questions to [email protected], or Stay Safe c/o Sun-Sentinel, 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.
    Intresting article...

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