Burglars Caught in the Act
With the right tools, law enforcement officers can stop criminals in their tracks.
When a rash of burglaries was happening in Salina, KS, law enforcement officers used data analysis and mapping functionality to track, connect and end the burglaries.
Data helped law enforcement officers gather the following facts about the burglaries:
- Location of the incidents
- Burglaries were concentrated in the northeast quadrant of the city
- Same modus operandi
- Phone lines were cut at each business that had been burgled
- Time of day
- Each burglary was committed at night after the business closed for the day
"With our records system, we can make use of data and intelligence that is gathered, so we can identify and predict trends," Capt. Paul Forrester of the Salina PD said. "When the data was collected that showed us where these incidences were happening, it highlighted the specific business corridors and beats that we needed to patrol."
In each incident, the criminals cut the phone lines to the businesses and stole cash and other items of value. In some cases, they would break windows or doors to gain access. The burglars always struck at night and the crimes were reported by business owners the next business day.
"These were all crimes of opportunity," Forrester said. "There was no real strategy to what they were taking. The fact that it was so random was just another indicator of the pattern these criminals were creating."
To put an end to these burglaries and arrest the individuals responsible, civilian staff working in the Salina PD' records department worked quickly to compile data. This compilation included mapping each location, which identified the quadrant in which the burglaries were happening.
"When we can map out hotspots of activity, it helps us to increase patrol and cut down on crime," Forrester said. "With all the burglaries happening in town, we concentrated our efforts and performed more business checks at night."
While performing these business checks, law enforcement officers would examine the perimeter of buildings in the hotspot of activity looking for signs of a break in. These checks involved looking for cut phone lines, loose screens on windows, and broken windows or doors.
It was during these business checks that law enforcement officers in the area discovered the criminals in the act. The officers on patrol at the time noticed a vehicle parked behind a business that was closed for the evening. In addition, police noticed the phone lines to the business were cut.
Police immediately arrested the individuals who were caught in the act.
"If we hadn't had the data analysis capabilities that we have, which helped track these crimes, increase patrol and connect the cases, then it is possible we would have taken much longer getting these individuals off the street," Forrester said. "General patrols are a great thing, but policing is always better when we have tools to help guide us directly to areas where we need to be."
After the arrests were made, police connected 17 cases and recovered property from the burglaries.