Astounding! A police department that investigates burglaries

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Not Tulsa, of course; Kitsap County, Washington:

Authorities are looking for a burglary suspect they said was identified through DNA left on a beer can at a crime scene in 2005.

Prosecutors in Kitsap County have charged Curtis Kees Napoleon, a 20-year-old North Kitsap man, in thefts of over $30,000 in missing appliances, boat motors and other items that disappeared around Dec. 20, 2005 from four residences.

Deputies found a can of Miller Lite beer and later asked Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribal Police to request people of interest in the case to submit voluntary saliva samples.

The State Patrol Crime Lab eventually made a match, deputies said.

(Hat tip to reader S. Lee.)

The Tulsa Police Department doesn't investigate burglaries as a matter of policy. It may not be an official policy, but it seems to be a de facto policy. They regard burglaries as an insurance matter and their role as one of documenting the loss. You might call the approach "no-fault burglary." It's a force of nature, apparently: Sometimes the hail damages your roof, sometimes a stranger enters your house and takes your stuff.

In 1999, our old home was burglarized while my wife and son were at our new house for inspections. They came home to find a girl's bicycle in the driveway and the front door open. They were afraid to go in for fear that someone was still in there. I came to the house, and we called the police. It took a few hours for them to show up. One officer checked the house to be sure no one was in side.

The burglar had apparently come in a back window. My wife had been in a hurry to get to the inspection and had forgotten to set the alarm. He had been after easily portable valuables. He dumped my wife's earring box and rummaged through drawers. He stole a camcorder and 35mm camera (with photos and video of my son's 3rd birthday party), a portable CD player and CDs, some house keys on a ring inside the house, and a checkbook.

Other officers came a bit later and talked to us. We left things in their state of disarray, not wanting to disturb any physical evidence. We asked about the girl's bike. Probably was taken from a burglary earlier in the day. "Do you need it for evidence?" No, keep it for your kid or give it away. "Aren't you going to dust for fingerprints?" No.

They handed us a phone headset that they had found at another nearby burglary. It was ours. So there were indications that the same person or persons had robbed three homes in the same day, taking a bike from the first house and abandoning it at our house, then taking a number of items at our house and accidentally dropping one of them at the next house. And yet the officers made it clear they were only there to make a record of the burglary and to provide us a report to take to our insurance company.

We had the locks changed, called the bank to stop payment on the checks that had been stolen. We tracked down the serial numbers of the camera, camcorder, and CD player, and filed a supplemental report with the police, thinking they would be put on the list that pawn shops use to check for stolen property, hoping it might help the police to catch the crooks.

Then one of our stolen checks was received by the bank. (The bank didn't notify me immediately -- it showed up in the next statement.) Someone had written a check to Pizza Hut delivery at 49th and Peoria. I requested an image of the check from the bank. They had forged my signature -- not even close. The phone number from which the order had been called in had been written on the check by the delivery man.

I notified the detective assigned to the case. Here was a lead. At the very least, we knew that someone had committed a crime by trying to pass a stolen check.

The detective was uninterested. He said that wouldn't be enough to tie someone to the burglary and get a conviction. Well, of course not, but surely it was enough to justify at least visiting the residence where the pizza had been delivered and the stolen check had been offered in payment. Nope.

I'm not sure why TPD doesn't pursue burglars more vigorously. Perhaps it's because they aren't prosecuted vigorously. Perhaps it's a lack of police manpower. Perhaps it's a mistaken philosophy of policing. I've heard enough stories from others to know that it isn't a matter of the individual cops not caring. The decision was made above their pay grade.

Whatever the reason, it needs to change.

It seems to me that some of these burglaries could end in home invasion, assault, and even murder. Some of these burglars could be tied to crime syndicates. "Broken windows" theory says that when you start to enforce lesser laws, the rate of more serious crime goes down.

I wonder if insurance companies keep tabs on which cities have the highest rate of burglary or the highest rate of unsolved burglary cases. We get an insurance discount for having a monitored alarm system. Not that I want my premiums to go up, but it seems reasonable that insurance companies would raise rates on policyholders in cities that are effectively sanctuaries for burglary.

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13 Comments

DavidS said:

I would bet on it being a D.A. and lack of manpower problem.

TPD has caught a few burglars this week but we never hear these arrest on the news. Then again we don't hear all of the armed robberies either. Banks get a priority for some reason , even though the others involve a gun and the bank ones are usually just a piece of paper being used.

Don't be suprised if we make the top ten in stolen vehicles when the 2007 rankings come out in a couple of years.

We need more officers and detectives on our streets but we need a justice system that keeps them behind bars a little longer if at all....

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

I have a very similar story. The burglar(s) went right past an expensive guitar, ransacked the place and took a TV and a microwave, the checks and a couple of credit cards.

The policeman came and could care less. Told me to contact the my financial institutions and the insurance company and give them the police report number.

The criminals certainly know what the police investigate and what they don't. They certainly know which crimes are pursued by the District Attorney.

Guliani's approach to crime in NYC is what help turned that dangerous city into a very safe city, relatively speaking. They went after everything. Especially the "petty" crimes. As a result, the crime rates for all crimes went down.

The DA and the Police here will say we don't have the money. Which is why we need BIG tax increases.

Seems to me we can't afford all of this civility.

Liz said:

It must be all of Oklahoma. When I lived in Creek County and also in Pawnee County, neither would bother to do anything but make a report. We even did our own investigative work and found some of our things in the yard of who we suspected it to be, but no followup from the sheriff's dept.

I think I might become a burgler. Apparently, your only fear is getting caught in the act and unless the victims hold a gun on you, you are off scott free. Just wait until the country passes some inane law that make gun ownership illegal.

Oh, that pesky, conscience!

slaw said:

The Tulsa DA and assistant DA's work their butts off trying to prosecute crime in Tulsa to help keep the city safe. So do the Tulsa PD. I would look at the "leadership" of the city and the constraints and support(or lack of support) the DA and PD receive and investigate them. This "leadership" extends from Coburn, Sullivan down to the mayor. Drive through the lower-income housing additions around Foster Middle School and see how many Tulsa police and Highway patrol live in this area. They aren't making a tremendous salary for what they have to put up with.

Jeff Shaw said:

I agree it's leadership. I don't mean to discount the job that the law enforcement people do, but If three people can offer up a specific incidence of similar occurrences, there's a problem. I'm just sayin'

I know they don't make enough money. Neither do I.

G Webster Wormleigh said:

Come on, Liz....trying to blame Republican legislators for Mayor Taylor's foibles is ridiculous. And adding demographics and income levels to it is purely PC. You don't fool any concerned and responsible citizens out here. Being a Liberal is stupid enough, but attaching your misconceptions to burglaries is insane!

G Webster Wormleigh said:

...excuse me, but that may have been posted by slaw....same comments...

slaw said:

Who's stupid - worm?

DavidS said:

When an officer makes a statement of trying to find which charge the DA won't tuck their tail and run from, I think I can see where part of the problem is.

When my house was broke into last year (the first time) the officer dusted the window they came in and was pretty thorough. The next one the officer acted as if he didn't want to be there. Then there was the officer that wanted to look for the person I chased from my vehicle 15 minutes earlier and not go to the house he came from before trying to break into my car.
There is detectives who are working the burglaries as best as they can with the amount of them vs. the manpower. The officers who came to my neighbors 3 weeks ago when they were broken into gladly asked if they could have a copy of my survelience video of them crossing my yard carrying what they could to the vehicles .Everything adds up and I wish every officer would take the time to get as much as they could. Then it might be easier to get the DA to take it on to court and also not plea bargain them back to the streets. If they can prove they're a habitual crimminal it might go farther???

Paul Tay said:

Of course, TPD has ALL the resources to bust Santa for rolling Memorial. Gooooooooooo, TPD Santa Task Force!

fbc said:

As a sometime defense lawyer (I do a little criminal law, but it's not my major focus) I think one of the solutions is serious attention to mandatory incarceration for 2nd and 3rd offenses.

Trouble with that is, you'd have to start a massive building program to house the flood of new inmates, and that means massive tax increases.

There's a tax increase I'd vote for.

S. Lee said:
There's a tax increase I'd vote for.

Me too.

Paul Tay said:

Yep. I suppose felons NEED Santa too!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 18, 2007 10:41 PM.

Amazing! When passing grade is lowered, more students pass test! was the previous entry in this blog.

Drillers "80% certain" to locate downtown? is the next entry in this blog.

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