Thursday, March 24, 2011

Police solving fewer burglaries?

This just in from the Austin Statesman: "John Abraham waited three hours for a police officer to show up after someone broke into his East Austin home in 2009.

He'd been gone about 10 minutes and came home to find his back doors kicked open and his laptop and other items gone.

Abraham waited hours for an officer to respond, filled out a report and then never heard back from police. His property was never recovered.

"I just didn't feel like I was a priority," Abraham said. "I can understand because we don't live in a violent crime city, but it's not cool to feel like police don't even care."

Each year there are thousands of burglaries reported in Austin — last year there were more than 8,000 — and typically only 5 percent of them will end in arrest, with the victim's items being returned. The national average is 10 percent.

Critics say there's more that could be done by the department to track down or follow up with burglaries, but police say a lack of staffing is keeping them from solving more.

With 14 crime scene technicians on staff, police can only respond to about 45 percent of reported burglaries, said Bill Gibbens , manager of forensic science services for Austin police.

Officers are trained to collect some evidence, however it's common for the more experienced crime scene technician to be called out, said Tim O'Brien, a property crime technician for the police department. He said he works on three to four burglaries a day.

"Sometimes you can spend eight hours processing one crime scene," O'Brien said ..."

Click here to continue reading this story.

It's mildly interesting to read that staffing issues are to blame. I wonder why news agencies continually refuse to dig deeper to find out why - what's changed - and report that as well. I have a friend who lives in a nice neighbourhood in suburban Los Angeles. He was a victim of a burglary. When he called it in, he was told to just come to the station and file a report - that nobody would be dispatched and no investigation would take place. All he got was a police report to turn in to his insurance company.

He asked me if he should buy a CCTV system. My response - if there's to be no investigation, what's the point of spending more money? This is the part of the story that the news media is missing - people's expectations for service not being met. If we're not solving crimes of this nature anymore, why not. Did we ever solve these types of crimes? How much would it cost if we wanted a "full service" police agency?

Interesting food for thought.


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