Thursday, June 30, 2011

The High Cost Of Small Town Police Forces

The nation's economic woes are starting to manifest themselves here in Texas with local governments cutting back on services and in some cases, laying off law enforcement officers. I have been in law here in Texas for over twenty years and this is the first time I have seen Texas agencies actually lay off cops.

There is a story over at the Wall Street Journal about the small town of Alto, Texas whose city council just made the tough decision to furlough their entire five man department. Residents in Alto are fearful that crime in Alto is about to jump.

"Everybody's talking about 'bolt your doors, buy a gun,' " said Monty Collins, Alto's mayor, who was against the measure.

City Council members sent the police home when they decided they couldn't afford them. On June 15, the police chief and his four officers secured the evidence room, changed the passwords on their computers and locked the department's doors for six months—longer if local finances don't improve by then.

Of course, the model of every community having their own independent police force is not one that's universally used worldwide. Many countries have large national or regional police forces that cover communities of all sizes, from small to large.

Critics of national or regional police forces will argue that a community controlling their own police force makes for better community policing. However, it is possible to have community policing with a large police force. There are only a few regional police forces in the UK and they have always been at the forefront of community policing.

It may be more cost effective for law enforcement to be practiced by larger, more professional agencies than by small departments of 10 or fewer officers. When I lived in southern California, there were quite a number of communities that found it more cost effective to outsource their police services by contracting with the county sheriff to provide law enforcement in their community.

One benefit of larger, more professional police forces would be the reduction in the number of gypsy cops who always seem to be employed by small town police departments.

Maybe the belt tightening forced by the economy will force some systemic changes in the way we deliver law enforcement services in our communities.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finding The Girlfriend To Catch The Crook

The Honolulu Star Advisor has a piece with an interview with the FBI Special Agent who helped craft the TV advertising campaign that got the tip that snagged FBI 10 Most Wanted fugitive and mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger.

The commercials were aimed at female viewers in the same age group as Greig, 60 — viewers believed to be the most likely group to interact with Greig, whether as friends, co-workers, neighbors, hairstylists, doctors or dentists.

"In terms of publicity, the FBI knows that combining the reach and power of the media with alert citizens is a successful formula for catching fugitives," Richard Teahan, who led the Bulger task force, said on the day of the ad launch. "So we are taking the next logical step and continuing our focus on Greig, who has been on the run with Bulger since 1995."

In the story, it mentions that they had previously placed ads in publications likely to been seen by plastic surgeons as they knew Bulger's girlfriend had numerous plastic surgeries. According to the story the results demonstrated that by focussing on the girlfriend they were "on to something". After coming up with a TV ad campaign and buying time on TV show's popular with women viewers, the ads aired and both Bulger and his girlfriend were arrested the next day.

This goes to show that often times, thinking 'outside the box' or taking a new approach to an old and difficult problem can lead to a solution. If you are working on a difficult crime problem, have you tried a different or unusual approach to solving it?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How Does A 10 Most Wanted Fugitive Travel With Impunity?

Yesterday there were a few stories out with some interesting revelations about James "Whitey" Bulger, the Boston area mob fugitive who managed to stay on the run for 16 years in spite of being on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. This one over at the New York Times has a bit I thought was interesting.

They said Bulger admitted traveling to Boston several times "armed to the teeth" because he "had to take care of some unfinished business."

"Bulger refused to elaborate on whom he visited, when exactly he visited, and who was with him on these trips to Boston," Kelly and Wyshak wrote.

"While Bulger also admitted that he had previously stashed money with people he trusted, he did not identify anyone who might be currently hiding his assets."

Bulger also said he visited Las Vegas to play the slots on numerous occasions and "claimed he won more than he lost." He also said he traveled to San Diego, then crossed the Mexican border into Tijuana to buy medications, according to the memo.

In order for Bulger to travel to Tijuana and back, he had to cross an international border. One would assume that US border crossings would be looking for all kinds of nasty people, including wanted fugitives. While I can understand they might not worry about someone with an unpaid parking ticket, but a FBI 10 Most Wanted fugitive?

Bulger shared that Most Wanted List with Osama bin Laden. We can only hope that this was an aberration and we won't someday find out that bin Laden made trips to the US back when he was on the list.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ball State U Helps Muncie Police With Analysis

There was an interesting story this weekend over at that looked at how Ball State University is helping fiscally strapped Muncie, IN Police with crime analysis. From the story:

MPD's collaboration with BSU hopefully will boost "the capability of being more proactive rather than reactive," Chief Deborah Davis said. "They provide an assessment of the capacity of the department to perform crime analysis and mapping and to make recommendations for enhancing that capacity. In other words, to give us ideas on how to improve what we are currently capable of doing now."

This is a very interesting concept. Even though Muncie PD is a medium sized department they have no full time crime analyst on staff. Given that their sworn staffing has plummeted from 120 officers to 103, it sounds like their priorities are just to keep their heads above the water. Ball State's contribution will likely give Muncie PD the analysis they need to be as efficient as possible in these lean times.

It's also probably going to be a win for BSU as well. Their students will get real life experience in crime analysis that will help them in their education and may even start them on a career path in crime analysis or another criminal justice profession.

Do you have a college or university in your community? If so, have you thought about developing a mutually beneficial relationship with them such as what BSU and Muncie PD have done?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Even After 16 Long Years, A Mob Fugitive Is Finally Nabbed

The big criminal justice news this week is the arrest of long time mob fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger. Bulger had been an FBI informant and was on the run for 16 years after he was tipped off of a coming arrest by his FBI handler. The New York Times has a number of interesting stories about Bulger including the one where this bit came from:

“We are trying to reach a different audience that will produce new leads in the case,” said Special Agent Richard Teahan, who leads an F.B.I. task force that has searched for Mr. Bulger worldwide. “Greig has certain habits, characteristics and idiosyncrasies that are recognizable.”

They include having her teeth cleaned monthly before she fled. She also “loves dogs and all kinds of animals,” “likes to frequent beauty salons” and has “had multiple plastic surgeries,” Mr. Teahan said. The public service announcement includes a photo of the pair strolling with a black poodle.

That different approach, one that involved the FBI buying add time on shows that would be popular with women and using them to profile Bulger's longtime girlfriend, apparently worked as several news stories indicated that tips about the girlfriend led to Bulger's arrest.

Other NY Times stories worth reading on this are here, here, here, and here.

The big lesson for many of us in law enforcement is that this is a demonstration of the old adage "there is more than one way to skin a cat". By focussing on the girlfriend instead of the fugitive and raising publicity about her, they generated tips that led to Bulger.

This idea that you can often solve a crime problem in more than one way is an important part of a community policing or problem oriented policing strategy. If you are trying to solve a difficult crime problem, make sure that you examine the problem from all angles. You might be able to solve the problem by coming at it from another angle.

When was the last time you solved a crime problem by using an unusual strategy?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Do You Determine What Works?

The US Department of Justice announced a new website this week that helps to inform those in the criminal justice community what programs work and those that might not work as well. This website, was announced at the National Institute of Justice crime research conference by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson. From her statement:

"We all have tight budgets today. helps us take a 'smart on crime' approach that relies on data-driven, evidence-based analysis to identify and replicate justice-related programs that have shown real results in preventing and reducing crime and serving crime victims," explained Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General.

The website rates programs as Effective, Promising or No Effects and covers programs in Corrections, Courts, Crime Prevention, Law Enforcement and others. Just in the Law Enforcement category, there were already 22 programs evaluated for effectiveness.

This looks like another good web resource to bookmark. They also have an RSS feed of the site if you prefer to keep up with it that way.

How do you look for effective crime fighting programs at your agency?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amish Man Arrested In Teen Sexting Sting

This story over at The piqued my interest because it's so unusual. It seems that Connersville, Indiana Police arrested a 21 year old Amish man who was allegedly sexting a 13 year old girl. When the girl's mother discovered lewd texts on her daughter's cell phone she went to police who then set up a sting operation to nab the bad guy.

The sting operation led to this great quote from one of the lawman involved in the sting when the Amish man arrived to pick up the girl in a horse and buggy.

"We set up in our positions, and we heard the vehicle coming down the roadway," said Connersville police Detective Craig Pennington. "We thought, 'Well, this is obviously going to be it.'"

I would imagine that even in Connersville, they don't have many suspects roll up in a horse and buggy. Of course, this leads to the inevitable questions about Connersville Police's pursuit policy had the suspect tried to lead police on a low speed horse and buggy pursuit. Do spike strips even work on buggy wheels?

Why can't this stuff happen in the sleepy little burg where I work?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Killeen Cops Invite Community To Voice Concerns

This story from the Killeen Daily Herald highlights one of our central Texas police agency's efforts at engaging the community by inviting them to voice their concerns directly to the department at an open forum.

KPD Commander and Chief of Staff Margaret Young said the department reacts to input given by citizens. After a brief presentation by Baldwin, the forum will be opened up to the public's concerns.

"It's kind of led by (attendees) depending on what people ask about. Sometimes it's traffic, sometimes it's burglaries. One time the whole thing was about loud music," Young said.

Often times, the public's perception of what are the problems in their community and law enforcement's perceptions are different. For example, in the sleepy little burg where I work we get many more complaints about traffic problems such as speeders than we do about "real" crimes such as car burglaries or armed robberies.

Much of this difference in perception has to do with the information available. For the citizen, all they see is cars whizzing up and down their street while their children play in the front yard. Even though there are much more serious crimes to attend to, they don't see them for the most part. Because of this, they often fear problems that we don't see as a "big deal".

However, just because we know that there are more serious and often more dangerous crimes to deal with does not mean that it isn't important to address these concerns. Very often, the response a citizen gets to a minor problem will color their whole opinion of a police agency.

Failure to adequately address citizen's problems initially will often times cause you to spend more resources to address the backlash that comes from a flawed initial response to the problem. You could clear every homicide in your city for a year, but if you don't address a citizen's minor traffic problem guess who's likely to show up at the city council meeting to complain?

Does your agency have a mechanism for the community to express their concerns? If not, what would it take to open up a dialog with the residents of the community where you serve?

For more on the public's fear of crime, see this publication over at the Problem Oriented Policing Center.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Missouri Cops Sharpen Their Efforts At Crime Fighting

Modern policing techniques and crime analysts aren't just for big city police departments. Mid size and suburban police agencies are using these techniques to sharpen their focus and improve their crime fighting abilities. There was a story last week over at the Columbia Daily Tribune that looks at both Boone County and Columbia, MO cops and their efforts at sharpening their crime fighting techniques.

Columbia police under Chief Ken Burton also have instituted a problem-oriented policing philosophy at his department in addition to a geographic policing strategy. Under geographic policing, sergeants are responsible for a small section of the city patrolled by officers that report to them. Those officers and sergeants are responsible for solving problems in their designated areas in an effort to make policing customer friendly, efficient and proactive.

Both strategies are resulting in better police work, Nelson said, and the addition of crime analyst Jerry East to the staff has allowed the department’s strategies to become more data-driven.

Data allow officers to see where crimes are taking place over time. Beat officers can be shifted for trending crimes, such as burglaries, and consistent analysis of incoming data allows Nelson to react to problems more quickly.

Regardless of the size of your agency, intelligence led policing, problem oriented policing or other data driven techniques can help your agency become more efficient at reducing crime in your community. Back in May I posted about a piece over at the Wall Street Journal where criminologist James Q. Wilson wrote that he believed that use of techniques such as this partly explain the drop in crime in the US over the past couple of years.

What is your agency doing to sharpen their focus? Have you found that certain techniques work better with agencies of a certain size?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time For A Break

I'm taking a much needed break for the remainder of this week. Things here at The Crime Analyst's Blog should get back to normal next week.

Meanwhile, you can follow my Twitter feed as I'll post any relevant bits (and even some less than relevant bits) over there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hiring Cops: How Much Bang Do You Get For The Buck?

Last week I posted about leaner police budgets forcing law enforcement agencies to come up with new and cheaper ways to deal with meth lab clean ups. On a similar note regarding leaner budgets and more careful spending, there comes this bit from US DOJ's Community Policing Dispatch that looks at a RAND Corporation tool that allows agencies to estimate their return on investment of the costs of hiring additional police officers.

RAND’s Center on Quality Policing has developed an online calculator tool that can help city managers, police leaders, city council members, media, and the public better understand the cost of crime in their communities and the returns on police personnel investments. Underpinning the tool is information drawn from peer-reviewed academic studies that measure the cost of crime and the effects of changing a police force size on crime.

This is an interesting concept. I also think that it's a much needed one. For so long, cities haven't really correlated the cost of crime with their police budgets. They sometimes just throw money at the crime problem without any empirical evidence that they are going to see a meaningful return on their investment.

But now, the new fiscal reality of tighter budgets is forcing people to ask these questions. As law enforcement professionals, we need to make sure that our communities are getting what they pay for.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Port St. Lucie Police Use Crime Notifications To Connect With Community

I thought this bit from the Florida news outlet was interesting.

A new program created by the Police Department helps crack down on neighborhood crimes, especially residential and car buglaries, the city's most frequent crimes.

Through the Neighborhood Crime Notification program, which began in February, residents can now receive reports on where crime is occurring, what types of crimes are occurring, potential suspects and crime prevention tips.

Residents can either go to the Police Department's website to view current crime bulletins, which are broken up by district, or sign up through the department to receive alerts via e-mail.

Social media, email and other technology make it really easy for police agencies to connect with their communities. It's also pretty cheap to do so. For many crimes such as vehicle burglary, it's much more effective to prevent the crime by getting citizens to protect their property than it is to solve the crime after the fact.

How is your agency using social media and other tech to connect with your community?

Friday, June 10, 2011

At Least They Are Quoting A Different Psychic

After originally running with a story that Liberty County, Texas Police were knee deep in dismembered bodies, the New York Times is now reporting that most law enforcement agencies don't use psychics to solve crimes.

This comes as a welcome relief given that the NY Times stoked the media frenzy with this post on their Twitter account:

NYT NEWS ALERT: Up to 30 Dismembered Bodies Found Near Houston, Reuters Reports

According to the latest bit from the Old Gray Lady, they quote a different psychic who said this:
“My first feeling was that something did happen,” Ms. Mari said, “but I didn’t see a bunch of bodies laying around or dismembered.” Besides, she added, “I would never call the police department and say, ‘Hey, I’m a psychic and I know what’s what.’ ”

Well, at least they quoted a more reputable psychic in their follow up piece. In spite of using a headline that implies that Texas cops regularly use psychics, buried near the end of the story is a reasonable explanation from the Liberty County cops as to why they did what they did:

In Texas, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday that it was still trying to identify the woman who called in the anonymous tip, claiming that she was psychic and that up to 30 bodies, including those of children, were buried on the property in Hardin. When officers investigated, they found blood on a fence and smelled what they thought might be rotting bodies, the statement said. But after a search warrant was obtained, there were far less gruesome explanations for both — the odor was apparently from rotting meat.

Judge Craig McNair of Liberty County said that he was skeptical about psychics, but that the sheriff’s department was obliged to investigate the tip and to search further once the blood and the bag were found.

Law enforcement is required to investigate claims such as this, even if it sounds pretty outlandish. At my office I have a whole file dedicated to these types of "tips". If anyone got "punked" in this episode, it's probably the media who ran with this prior to getting all the facts. Maybe they should have called the other psychic first.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shrinking Budgets Force New Thinking On Meth Lab Cleanup

I've said before that I thought that the fiscal crisis would lead to more efficient ways of doing things in law enforcement. There's a story over at NPR that demonstrates this effect.

In Tennessee, police used to call in certified contractors to neutralize those poisons and haul them away. It cost about $2,000 each time, which the federal government used to pay until budget cuts this spring.

Now, Tennessee authorities are turning to people like Kentucky State Police Sgt. Gerald Wilson, to learn how to do it themselves. Wilson is teaching a class of about 30 officers from across Tennessee how to use pH strips to help figure out what they're dealing with. Wilson's role here is like teaching a person to fish: teach a police officer to clean up a meth lab, and he'll save his agency thousands.

"Last year the state of Kentucky spent approximately $440,000 on cleanup using the container system that we have now, where the state of Tennessee spent approximately $4.5 million having contractors respond to the sites and cleaning them up that way," Wilson says.

Kentucky had only about half as many labs as Tennessee, but it still saved a lot of money with that container system — lockers where police take all the hazards they find in meth labs.

There is nothing like a lean budget to force agencies to innovate. The old way of throwing money at a problem may be the easiest way to solve a problem but it isn't the only way.

And it's not just meth lab clean up that is benefiting from innovation spurred by fiscal austerity. Quite a number of crime analysis principles can be used to focus your agency's efforts. These include things like focussing on prolific offenders, hot spot policing, DDACTS, and other techniques.

What are you doing to help your agency do more with less?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Psychic Tipster Causes Media Ruckus With Hoax Tip of Mass Grave

There's a story over at the Houston Chronicle of a media circus that ensued after a "psychic" tip about a mass grave with dismembered bodies was phoned into Liberty County law enforcement.

"There is no indication that there are in fact any bodies located at this residence or in the shed here," or anywhere on the property, said Liberty County sheriff's Captain Rex Evans, adding that there was no indication that any illegal activity had taken place on the property.

One well-placed law enforcement source called it a wild scene, complete with more than two dozen news reporters and two television helicopters circling overhead. After hours of waiting, authorities finally obtained a search warrant and descended on the home, which sits on a quarter-acre lot in an unincorporated area.

I saw quite a number of state and national media outlets pick up and run with this story yesterday. Now, they are all trying to explain why.

Quite often the media gets upset with law enforcement when we are tight lipped about an investigation. The reason we are often tight lipped is for this very reason. It's usually better for us to wait until we have the facts before we issue a press release. However, nature abhors a vacuum and the media does too. In this case, it looks like they got punked.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alleged Assassin Of San Antonio Deputy Arrested

San Antonio authorities announced the arrest of a man they believe responsible for the assassination of a Bexar County Sheriff's Deputy. has this bit on the suspect:

His criminal record did not appear to be related to Vann's killing, nor does the fact that he applied in 2003 to be a San Antonio police officer, Ortiz said. Gonzales passed the entrance exam, officials said, but was put on a waiting list that expired before his application went further.

“There's no indication that (any) drug cartel was involved,” Ortiz said Monday. “There's no indication that it was a gang initiation. This individual seemed to be a loner and didn't really associate with too many people.”

This is one of the weirdest cop killings I have seen in quite a long time. Most police officers expect danger from someone they have had a confrontation with. But there are no indications that there had ever been any contact between the suspect and Sgt. Vann.

This killing lends credence to the belief that there is an increasing lack of respect for law enforcement and consequently, more offenders are willing to assault police officers. This may be part of the reason for the increase in firearms as the cause of line of duty deaths in 2010.

To quote the immortal words of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus "Let's be careful out there."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Woman Robs Store To Help Boyfriend Who Then Dimes Her Out

This local crime story is one of those that makes you ask: What were they thinking? Actually, thinking was probably no where in this one written about over at the Killeen Daily Herald.

A 20-year-old woman is in custody after she allegedly robbed a clothing store Wednesday night to help ease the financial woes of her boyfriend.

Police said problems arose for Brittney Hawkins-Moore because her boyfriend is an employee of the Rue 21 clothing store in Market Heights, the store Hawkins-Moore allegedly robbed. An arrest affidavit states her 22-year-old boyfriend attempted to chase her and later identified her to police.

Hawkins-Moore has been charged with aggravated robbery. Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin arraigned her Thursday, setting her bail at $100,000.

My first question is: do you think that she'll dump him?

On a more serious note, why is it that armed robbery has been reduced from something that we expected from big burly ex-cons with lots of homemade tattoos, to something 20 year old girls to do help their boyfriends out? Why has this crime become so trivialized that even unlikely people consider it a viable enterprise?

If you think I am far off on this, look at the folks we now see robbing banks. The site Bandit Tracker has quite the range of suspects from what ones you would normally imagine when you think bank robber to people that you'd never think would be a bank robber.

How can we de-trivialize armed robbery and reduce the motivation of these atypical people to commit these crimes? If you figure it out, let me know.

Friday, June 3, 2011

San Diego Sheriff Implements Intelligence Led Policing Program

There's a story over at the San Diego Union Tribune's website Sign On San Diego that has an interesting piece on the San Diego County Sheriff's Office intelligence led policing program. Intelligence led policing is a way to make a department more efficient by focusing resources on those crime problems that affect communities with the greatest harm. From the story:
Dr. Noah Fritz, the county’s new crime analysis manager, said the strategy amounts to putting sheriff’s deputies at the right place at the right time.
“It’s predicting and forecasting, looking at locations that are more prone to crime and targeting serious and prolific offenders,” said Fritz, who spent five years teaching criminology and criminal justice at Metropolitan State College of Denver.
Intelligence-led policing traces its origins to the United Kingdom in the 1990s, during a time of considerable fiscal constraint. Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe was a police officer with the Metropolitan Police in London, where he served in an intelligence and information unit, among other duties.
Now chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Temple University, Ratcliffe’s book on the subject has become a road map for law enforcement agencies across the country searching for how best to manage available resources.
Given the fiscal woes for agencies in California, making the most of the limited resources they have is extremely important. In fact, given that fiscal reality in nearly all of the US, it's probably important for all law enforcement agencies to put their resources where they will get the most bang for their buck. Intelligence led policing is one way to do that.

In what ways is your department focusing their enforcement efforts to get the most efficient use of it's resources?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stolen Laptop Nabs It's Thief

Too bad all stolen laptop cases don't turn out this well. The San Francisco Chronicle has the story of a Oakland computer programmer who had his laptop stolen. The laptop was equipped with software that snapped pictures using the laptop's camera and took screen grabs. These pics allowed the victim to help Oakland Police to zero in on the thief.

A Web campaign to catch the alleged thief was launched by Joshua Kaufman, who filed a police report in late March stating that someone had broken into his North Oakland apartment and stolen his Apple MacBook computer.

Kaufman said he had installed software called Hidden that followed the computer's movements through a tracking device, and took pictures of the suspect's face while the man used the laptop.

In one of the photos, the suspect appears to be driving with the laptop opened in his lap. In another, he peers into the screen while shirtless, and in yet another he's asleep on a couch.

The campaign picked up in earnest Tuesday after popular Web sites linked to Kaufman's blog, and Twitter users forwarded pictures of the bearded suspect to other users.

Laptops are expensive, portable and highly desired. Consequently, those same qualities that make them hot items for consumers also make them hot items for thieves. The excellent book Crime Analysis for Problem Solvers labels these types of items with the acronym CRAVED. I covered that chapter of the book here. The CRAVED acronym stands for:

  • Concealable. Things that can be hidden in pockets or bags are more vulnerable to shoplifters and other sneak thieves. Things that are difficult to identify or can easily be concealed after being stolen are also more at risk. In some cases, thefts may even be concealed from the owners of goods, as when lumber or bricks left lying around on building sites are stolen.
  • Removable. The fact that cars and bikes are mobile helps explain why they are so often stolen. Nor is it surprising that laptop computers are often stolen since these are not only desirable but also easy to carry. What is easy to carry depends on the kind of theft. Both burglars and shoplifters steal cigarettes, liquor, medicines, and beauty aids from supermarkets, but burglars take them in much larger quantities.
  • Available. Desirable objects that are widely available and easy to find are at higher risk. This explains why householders try to hide jewelry and cash from burglars. It also helps explain why cars become more at risk of theft as they get older. They become increasingly likely to be owned by people living in poor neighborhoods with less off-street parking and more offenders living nearby. Finally, theft waves can result from the availability of an attractive new product, such as the cell phone, which quickly establishes its own illegal market (see box).
  • Valuable. Thieves will generally choose the more expensive goods, particularly when they are stealing to sell. But value is not simply defined in terms of resale value. Thus, when stealing for their own use, juvenile shoplifters may select goods that confer status among their peers. Similarly, joyriders are more interested in a car's performance than its financial value.
  • Enjoyable. Hot products tend to be enjoyable things to own or consume, such as liquor, tobacco, and DVDs. Thus, residential burglars are more likely to take DVD players and televisions than equally valuable electronic goods, such as microwave ovens. This may reflect the pleasure-loving lifestyle of many thieves (and their customers).
  • Disposable. Only recently has systematic research begun on the relationship between hot products and theft markets, but it is clear that thieves will tend to select things that are easy to sell. This helps explain why batteries and disposable razors are among the most frequently stolen items from American drug stores.

I am sure that if you have read or written a few theft reports at your jurisdiction you can likely list quite a few items that are CRAVED by thieves. Knowing what is being CRAVED by thieves can help you to sharpen your enforcement or prevention efforts.

What goods are most often stolen in your jurisdiction?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ambush of San Antonio Lawman a Cartel Hit?

I was wondering when this would be speculated upon: Officials investigating the ambush slaying of a Bexar County Sheriff's Deputy are looking into the possibility that this slaying was related to Mexican drug cartel violence. From the story over at

“We are working day and night. ... but unfortunately we don't have any results to report as of today,” Ortiz said. “It is very, very frustrating.”

Ortiz said every theory had to be considered, including that the killing bore the hallmarks of a Mexican drug cartel hit. He said the killer or killers did not, apparently, target Vann as an individual but killed him on “the spur of the moment.”

This assassination was very unusual as it appears to be unpremeditated. Usually when a peace officer is killed by gunfire, it is the result of a confrontation. In this instance the deputy was sitting in his marked unit waiting at a stop light when a small white car pulled up next to him and opened fire with an assault rifle.

The reward for information on Sgt. Vann's killer is up to $127,000. There is also information in the story about ways to donate money to help his family. Hit the link to read the article.