Why I called the police (long post)

Joined
Sep 13, 2007
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20,127
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Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
I regularly see law enforcement people on television urging citizens to always be aware of their environment out of concern for safety and that if we see something unusual, we should contact the authorities. Their catch phrase is: If you see something, say something. The most recent account shown below when I saw something and said something happened just yesterday.

Feel free to add your own stories and to respond to mine.

YESTERDAY
I was walking in the strip shopping center that I regularly go to only one block from my house when I noticed a black canvas bag about the size and shape of a medium size artist's bag leaning against a concrete planter where the wide sidewalk joins the parking lot. A pizza place only steps away from that planter has a significant delivery business, so I wondered if that bag belonged to them. One of the delivery guys said it didn't and that he saw a woman set the bag down before going into one of the stores.

I called 911 and was immediately told that that number is to be used only for life-threatening emergencies. Considering that that person knew I was calling about a potential bomb, there was no point in my mind in discussing with him whether that was potentially a life-threatening situation. I then called the number he preferred that I use. I was thanked and the police were dispatched.

During the more than 20 minutes before the police arrived, I stood hopefully safely away from the bag, urged others to stay away and told them the police were on the way. Everyone thanked me, including those who then walked within a few feet of the bag on their way to thanking me.

When the police arrived, they also thanked me, asked me a few questions and wrote down some details provided on my driver's license. They, unlike me, were very happy to remain within several steps of the bag.

The police decided to wait to talk to others in the area and told me that they would contact me if they needed me. That seems like a reasonable response.

A COUPLE YEARS AGO
When my wife and I took our seats in one of the upper levels of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, which was nearly filled to its capacity of 2465 seats, I noticed that a backpack was underneath the vacant seat next to mine. The pack was clearly not empty. The Kennedy Center has no security system at entrances checking bags.

I immediately told everyone in the area about the bag, that I was going to call security, and that I recommended leaving the immediate area until security considered it safe to return to our seats. Nobody other than my wife and me budged. I even had to convince the usher attending that area to call security. I kid you not, she actually used as a reason not to call security that she remembered seeing the person place the bag under the seat. DUH!!!!!!!!!!!

Several minutes later that man took his seat. I told the usher that it was okay to cancel the call to security and my wife and I returned to our seats next to him. I politely explained to the man about my reaction to his unattended backpack and that it would be helpful in the future if he wouldn't leave it unattended. He didn't respond.

SEVERAL YEARS AGO
The school bus never goes down the street I live on. One day it not only went down that street, but also stopped, didn't let anyone off and didn't let anyone on (because there was nobody there to get on). The bus was filled with children, so I wondered if the driver was perhaps intoxicated or on drugs. The unusual behavior even made me wonder if the driver was mentally unstable and might be placing the children at risk.

I called 911 and was immediately thanked for doing so. (Unlike in the first situation described above, I was not asked to call a different telephone number.) It was the first day of school for that school year and they told me that sometimes a new driver on a route gets confused. Regardless, they promised to follow up on my concern. About 45 minutes later, they called me back to thank me again and to let me know that they had confirmed that, indeed, the bus driver was new to that route and that he had a longstanding, unblemished history with that school district. That information allayed my concerns.
 
Last edited:

Growltiger

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Up in the hills, Gloucestershire, UK
My track record at catching criminals is no better than yours.

I used to live in central London. It was a side street off a well known shopping street, the house was near the end where the shops are.

First emergency call
Walking home very late one night I saw that a house a few doors from mine, which had scaffolding up for repairs, had a little temporary hut in its tiny front garden. Perhaps used to store tools etc. But I saw movement in the hut, someone was hiding in there. I was not going to stop and investigate. As soon as I got home I called 999 (our equivalent of 911) and reported a suspicious person hiding there, perhaps stealing things, or planning to break in, or perhaps going to jump out and mug someone. Ten minutes later the police phoned me, thanked me politely, and explained that they had spoken with the man in the hut, and he was employed to be there to prevent the scaffolding being stolen in the night.

Second emergency call
At 3am I was woken by the sound of breaking glass. Looking out of the window I saw an unmarked van with its rear doors open and three or four men coming and going from it. I called 999 and told them what I was seeing. Within five minutes several unmarked and marked police cars arrived from both directions, sealing off the road, the van and the men. I was delighted to see their speed and pleased to have helped catch the thieves. I saw discussions, then after five minutes the police all left! They phoned me, thanked me politely, and explained that the shop properties there are so valuable that when there is a change of use the refit of the shop takes place at night to avoid losing a day's business.
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2011
Messages
3,193
Location
London
Abandoned suitcases in central London after terrorist attacks, fights in the street, drunken abuse of woman by man...
Reported all these to 999/112.
Interesting thing is that on many of these occasions I was told that I was not the only one to report it.
The Met in London is very used to dealing with these calls and takes them very seriously.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
2,362
Location
Southern Cal
All of you are definitely doing the right thing.
As Mike said, if you see something say something.
Let the proper authorities make the determination.

There is a site that handles a lot of other minor issues for residents of certain cities.
It's called clickfix.com
I don't know exactly how many cities participate but there are quite a few.
Do a google search typing clickfix and your city or county name and see if they participate.
They handle everything from graffiti to broken street lights.
In my area the city agencies monitor it and relay the information to the proper city department.
Minor problems are usually handled very quickly.
They also have a mobile app so you can report things you come across while walking the neighborhood.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2006
Messages
602
Location
San Antonio, TX
A couple times I've seen break-ins in progress. I call the fire department as the arrive quickly with sirens going and that scatters the bad guys. Police are not interested unless you see gunfire.
 
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Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Messages
7,049
Location
Sandpoint, Idaho
Only incident I've been tangentially involved in was over 10 years ago I saw a car going into my neighbors house, the neighbor was at his Vail condo and had asked me and others to keep an eye on his place. I didn't call the police, I'd been warned it takes them awhile to get here unless one of them happens to be sitting in your driveway. I called a neighbor who is an ex Federal cop, he responds very fast and appears to enjoy doing cop stuff. He grabbed one of his machine guns (he's a machine gun dealer), jumped on his ATV and rushed over there. I'd guess his response time to be under two minutes. He found the driver wandering around outside the house with a large screwdriver in his back pocket, his vehicles back seat was filled with power tools that my ex-cop neighbor guessed were stolen. He asked the fellow what he was doing there and the guy told him he was seeing if there was any work for him. He was asked to leave and the fellow left right away, never to be seen around here again.
The only crime I know about in this neighborhood happened about 35 years ago, a car stereo was stolen from an unlocked car. Idaho in general is a pretty safe place. The only place we've lived that felt safer was Zurich.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2016
Messages
1,040
Location
Sugar Land, Texas
I typically call the police when I see a car parked in a handicapped spot without a placard, or qualifying license plate (includes disabled vets). Once when I went into a restaurant to pick up a to go order, I spotted a car parked illegally in a handicapped spot. As I walked in, I saw some officers leaving the restaurant. I mentioned to them what I had seen. They thanked me and left. As I was leaving the restaurant, I saw the owner of the car trying to talk her way out of an expensive ticket with the officers. It made my day.
 

LyndeeLoo

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May 19, 2008
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St. Louis, Missouri
Nowadays, out where I live, the city and county police departments won't even respond to those types of calls unless someone has been shot. They'll tell you to fill out a report online, or go to the police station to report it. That goes for carjackings, ("just report it to your insurance company"), car thefts, and even accidents if someone hasn't been killed or severely injured. I once flagged down a city police car to report someone hit by a car not 100 feet away. The response? "I have to go somewhere and can't stop for that" (seriously, he said that).

Now in the smaller municipalities that have their own police force, like the one I live in, a response typically occurs within minutes, as they are far more responsive. When my neighbor had a massive heart attack in my driveway five years ago, I called and the police arrived in literal seconds and it was the police woman's actions that saved my neighbors life. He would have died if I had lived in the city or had to call the County PD.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2007
Messages
3,553
Location
Tacoma, WA
Real Name
Ken St John
We have had several incidents involving the police and the results were pretty similar. All involved stolen iPhones - one was a broken rear window and missing phone when my son left his phone on the back seat while we were at a movie, the second was a missing phone after my son left it in a unlocked locker at his work, and the third was a missing phone that was stolen from my son at his high school (see a bit of a common thread here...?). In the first case, the officer responded but just gave us a number for the report and our insurance. The second was the same, even though the pool he was working at had video surveillance of the area involved. The third was also pretty laid back, until I checked our son's phone's "Find My iPhone" app and got a location on the phone. Brought it right away to his school (where the theft occurred) and the school's assigned officer found the perp and recovered our son's phone. Without that little nudge, it was clear the report was all we were going to get.

I truly understand that stolen phones, or missing items due to "porch pirates" are not as serious as crimes involving violence, serious traffic accidents, etc. And manpower is limited. I get it.

But at the same time, what kind of message are we sending to "potential" perps when no one seems to care about missing items from your porch or a stolen phone?

Ken
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
20,127
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
But at the same time, what kind of message are we sending to "potential" perps when no one seems to care about missing items from your porch or a stolen phone?

We're sending the message that we don't want to pay the taxes necessary to support such a large police force that would have the time to pursue the perps and recovery of the stolen items.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2009
Messages
7,793
Location
Texas (KSKF)
We're sending the message that we don't want to pay the taxes necessary to support such a large police force that would have the time to pursue the perps and recovery of the stolen items.
Or if it's an HOA, pay the necessary dues for security. E.G., our HOA has a security guard outside our park/pool complex. "We" as residents could pay more for that security guard (or additional ones) to patrol/respond for the "porch pirates".
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Messages
7,049
Location
Sandpoint, Idaho
I was discussing the subject of home theft with a friend the other day, he lives in New Mexico. He asked who I would call if I returned home from a trip and my home had been broken into and "stuff" was missing. He had mentioned he would call the police. I told him I would call my insurance company, given the police aren't going to care about my missing stuff. I'm not even sure the police would bother to show up. Police here are busy in their tax collection job of issuing traffic citations, interrupting them in this role would not be productive. I do all I can to avoid any interaction with the police. I drive under the speed limit, come to full stops at stop signs, always signal and do not have any air fresheners hanging from my mirror. I was a volunteer range master at the city run shooting range in town for 15 years, I've seen first hand their firearm handling skills and it is a frightening display of incompetence and total disregard for safety. I do not want to be around them and their guns, it is not safe, I am not exaggerating. I've seen them insert bullets into a Glock magazine backwards, and then try to cram it into the gun - and request my help when it wouldn't work. My last time with a bunch of them qualifying was so dangerous I handed the range keys to the top cop, told him to lock up and left. A dozen of them on the shooting line was unmanageable, and I was the only one present without a bullet proof vest. Watching them repeatedly miss human sized silhouette targets at 7 yards, fool around with loaded guns behind the firing line, walking onto a hot range to retrieve brass, check targets and just wander around just became too much for me to deal with. I could have handled 2 or 3 of them, but not a dozen. They are nice people, but not people I want anywhere near me when they are armed.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2016
Messages
1,040
Location
Sugar Land, Texas
Only incident I've been tangentially involved in was over 10 years ago I saw a car going into my neighbors house, the neighbor was at his Vail condo and had asked me and others to keep an eye on his place. I didn't call the police, I'd been warned it takes them awhile to get here unless one of them happens to be sitting in your driveway. I called a neighbor who is an ex Federal cop, he responds very fast and appears to enjoy doing cop stuff. He grabbed one of his machine guns (he's a machine gun dealer), jumped on his ATV and rushed over there. I'd guess his response time to be under two minutes. He found the driver wandering around outside the house with a large screwdriver in his back pocket, his vehicles back seat was filled with power tools that my ex-cop neighbor guessed were stolen. He asked the fellow what he was doing there and the guy told him he was seeing if there was any work for him. He was asked to leave and the fellow left right away, never to be seen around here again.
The only crime I know about in this neighborhood happened about 35 years ago, a car stereo was stolen from an unlocked car. Idaho in general is a pretty safe place. The only place we've lived that felt safer was Zurich.
LOL.... When we moved into our house 33 years ago, we set a pair of wrought iron rockers on the front porch. My brother saw them and said they would be gone within a week. 33 years later, they are still there. The only times they have been off of the porch was for hurricanes / tropical storms and to be powder coated.
 

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