Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Austin Police Tackling City's Burglary Problem

There was an interesting bit over at the Austin American Statesman this weekend looking at Austin PD's Burglary detectives. Earlier this year, APD got criticized for their low burglary clearance rate. This criticism led APD to change how they responded to and investigated burglaries.

Now, burglary detectives are assigned to a section of the city and are notified immediately when one is reported in their area. There is always at least one burglary detective on call.

Detectives said they are now able to follow up with burglary victims. Before, police said they would only follow up when the burglar was caught or when property was found.

Detectives in the unit say the crime trends keep them on their toes because it's ever-changing; burglars change hot spots nearly every day and sell victims' property almost as quickly as it is stolen.

"Everyone here is thinking outside the box, and each detective really cares about returning someone's property," Robledo said. "There has been nothing but positive results coming from this unit."

For quite some time, burglary has taken a back seat to more violent crime problems in many cities. Unfortunately, this "low priority" attitude towards burglary has led to a proliferation of serious, prolific burglars. Just a few burglary crews operating in an area can lead to a big crime problem. And, because burglary is usually considered a "non-violent" offense, the few burglars that do get caught probably won't do any meaningful time.

Like Austin, many cities are realizing they have to become more efficient at both preventing and solving burglaries. The Problem Oriented Policing Center has a POP Guide dealing with burglary at single family residences. The guide has some useful advice on analyzing the burglary problem in your community.

What are you doing to tackle the problem of burglary in your jurisdiction? Have you found a strategy that is particularly effective?

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