People often ask whether they should file a police report for what may appear to be a non-emergency or a “small thing.” Many believe that because they don’t have any information on a suspect, the person won’t be caught. Or, they don’t think there’s any traceable evidence which would lead to the identification of a suspect. Or, they question whether what happened is even a crime. For example, it might have been something stolen from their car, or vandalism, or they might have been a target of fraud via the telephone or internet. I want to emphasize that if you are a victim of any crime (even if you aren’t sure it is a crime), you should report that incident—no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential.
HERE ARE A FEW REASONS WHY A PERSON SHOULD REPORT A CRIME
First, think globally.
It’s hard for a person who might have had a stereo stolen out of their unlocked car to think about the big picture of what might be happening in and around their neighborhood. But if the crime isn’t reported, law enforcement will not have the statistics of crime-related incidents in your area. This can help with future targeted enforcement, as well as help with identifying crime trends. More importantly, there may be a trend of car burglaries in your area that you are unaware of and reporting your stereo theft may be a missing piece of a puzzle the detectives need to get closer to catching the suspect.
Secondly, don’t assume there’s no traceable evidence to be collected.
A deputy may be able to lift a fingerprint off of an area in the car, such as the dashboard. The print may match a known person who has a history of auto burglaries. Even if the responding deputy cannot find fingerprints, or any other sort of evidence, the information about the item stolen (i.e. make, model, serial number) may help in getting the item recovered in the future. When an arrest is made on another burglary some of the items found in that location do end up being traced back to those mundane theft reports that
were generated months (even years) earlier. In these cases, not only might victims get their items back, they also have the satisfaction of knowing that the person responsible was caught.
Finally, never think you’re “bothering” law enforcement by filing a report.
If you don’t think your crime is important, or if you’re not sure if a crime even occurred, call us anyway. Let a deputy come out and determine if a crime was committed. We are here to serve you and your help is vital in keeping Goleta safe.