Community Post

911 Calls Make A Difference in Burglary Cases

According to the SPD blog, a Mount Baker resident thought that two teenagers were acting suspiciously and possibly casing the neighborhood.  She called 911 and police officers responded to the area, catching the two kids with stolen computer equipment and a flat screen TV.   The kids were booked into juvi hall and the stolen goods were returned to their owner.

The lesson here is to not be afraid of calling 911 when you see suspicious activity.  Always call if you see people you don’t recognize going up to doors, poking around properties, or just generally hanging out where they don’t belong.   If police are able to respond, they’ll start by asking the subjects what they’re doing.  They’ll be left alone if they have a good reason to be there.  If not, you’ll at a minimum have let them know that people are watching and it isn’t a free-for-all on your block. And who knows, you might help save your neighbors from being victimized.

0 thoughts on “911 Calls Make A Difference in Burglary Cases

  1. can’t agree on the lesson. i’d really rather talk to people in my neighborhood than call the cops on them. it has the same impact of letting them know that somebody is paying attention without implicating them in criminal behavior when none may exist.

  2. I agree with Scott. Sure, there is nothing wrong with talking to someone, but if they are casing, don’t expect them to tell you the truth or that your talk is going to prevent them from walking a block over to commit a burglary. I think we are the best judge of what is normal around our neighborhood, and it should be pretty obvious when a call to the police is needed if you notice people “going up to doors, poking around properties, or just generally hanging out where they don’t belong”. I caught a guy on the side of my house last Tuesday casing and their was no need for conversation, I knew exactly what he was doing, and I called 911. I think the important thing is if you decide to call the police, be very clear on if you are just reporting something suspicious, or if you have actually witnessed criminal behavior. Because you are right, you don’t want to implicate criminal behavior when none may exist. Don’t forget the story of Craig Hoffman (which is of course a worse case scenario) but it makes me think twice about people hangin’ where they shouldn’t, just like the guy on the side of my house:

  3. It seeems to me that the story a few posts down on the racist harassment of the young man by the SPD and the arrest of the parole office is relevant to this discussion. Given stories like that, I just can’t trust the SPD to sort out who is casing the neighborhood and who is just walking down the street. I am sad to say this, but incidents like that make me very reluctant to call 911. I also think that as a community, we have to think about what exactly counts as “casing”. Approaching a young person with suspicions (or, worse, calling 911 on them) when they are just going about their ordinary business is something that can damage and alienate that person for a long time. There are many fine black teenagers in our community. Not all of them are casinig our houses.

  4. Agreed George. To clarify my point above, I feel it should be obvious to someone when something is out of the norm enough to warrant a call to the police or to confront someone with your suspicions. Profiling is wrong, be it by a SPD Officer or a civilian. And if someone is growing suspicious because a black teenager is going about their ordinary business on their block, then they are wrong, and they have other issues they need to see someone about. I would hope it would take a person more then that, and maybe the verbiage above of “hanging out where they don’t belong” is being used to vaguely to describe a suspicious activity. 99.9999% of us in the CD are going about our ordinary business everyday. With that said, it is obvious that the other 00.0001% have stepped up their burglary game in recent weeks and I don’t think it hurts for us to step up our awareness. We should be able to trust our Police officers, and to hear the story of the young man and Ms. Gaston is disheartening and frustrating. However, if you see someone testing my door knobs, looking in my windows, or running through the park with my TV, please call the Police.

  5. But I would also say that I have NEVER been afraid to call the cops. The non-emergency number works well. 625-5011 or the east precinct 684-4300 if it’s not an actual emergency. I was at my community council meeting last month and we heard that the merchants on madison are experiencing a lot of shop lifting. I shared some of what we heard about robberies this summer on this blog. Then, one person told us how she was walking down MLK and saw kids coming out from behind a house with a bunch of stuff, dumping their gloves in the bushes. She called the cops. Of course.

    I say ‘of course’ because part of me cannot believe this is a discussion. A stranger in your yard? Call the cops. But here is a true story. A really really drunk neighbor broke out a window in the middle of the night when I was living in DC. One of us called the cops and another house mate threatened to shoot him. We recognized him and I’m really really glad my housemate didn’t shoot. His Dad fixed the window first thing the next morning, profusely apologizing. Seems his son thought it was his house

    I think the one most important thing any of us can do is to get to know our neighbors. You don’t have to form a Black Watch, although that is a means. We had a great Night Out party and I tend to work outside a lot on my little bit of yard, so I interact with my neighbors and get to recognize the folks that visit. Get into conversation with people walking down the street. Folks on my block all know the ‘locked out of my house’ scam because we TALK to each other. I’d hate to see one of the earnest young people working for Obama have to get the brunt of irrational fears. As a PCO, I regularly walk the neighborhood and knock on doors…..

    More broadly than your own block, a community council is key. I learned that Madison Valley started having community potlucks — no agenda and no business — to bring people together socially and ended up identifying the problem people, and getting the police involved. Out of that came the community council.

    It all involves something we in the information systems game call ‘face time’.

  6. I think it is wise to call 911 when teens are casing the hood with flat screen tv’s and computers under their arms.
    You know something is fishy when they are going from door to door to find their next home to break into .
    You can call it racial or whatever but when folks have to work for what they earn nobody is going to tolerate this nonsense everyday .
    Let them come by my house while i am home they will leave with a couple of bullet holes .