Crime never has a problem crossing jurisdictional boundaries.
California's Central Valley is made up of several cities, one of which is the city of Fresno. With more than 500,000 residents, this heavily-populated city has the second-highest property crime rate in the county. It also shares a border with the community of Clovis, which has one of the lowest crime rates in the valley.
So, when a rash of burglaries occurred in Clovis throughout the spring of 2017, crime analysts knew there was a serial burglar in the community and communicated this information with officers.
According to Sgt. Jim Munro of the Clovis Police Dept., dozens of vehicles were broken into during this timeframe. Normally averaging approximately 1,000 per year, the sudden increase in the number of thefts reported by citizens was alarming.
"The Fresno area has all of the crime you'd expect with big cities," Munro said. "Residents in Clovis expect to live in a safe community and it's important for us to make sure those expectations are met."
When reports of the crimes were made, it was noted that the modus operandi (MO) was the same and the perpetrator took purses, wallets, cash and other valuables from the vehicles.
In an effort to apprehend the burglar and stop the thefts from vehicles, officers and crime analysts worked with the information they collected from victims including what the individual had taken from the vehicles, the time of day, location, security camera footage, and descriptions of the getaway vehicle used.
By entering these details regarding each theft into the public safety software system used by the Clovis PD as well as information about the suspect, crime analysts determined the cases were likely connected.
"Being able to connect cases is huge for law enforcement," Munro said. "When you're able to connect cases not only can you potentially identify a suspect, but you can also start developing a crime pattern. Once a crime pattern is established, the likelihood of solving the case is much higher. We use our software on a daily basis to look at crime patterns and determine the best course of action to address these crimes."
By connecting the burglary cases, the Clovis PD was able to identify the suspect and his vehicle.
The suspect was ultimately arrested after the vehicle used in the burglaries was caught on surveillance and later pulled over during a traffic stop. Stolen property from the burglaries was found in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop.
The arrest and subsequent conviction of the individual resulted in 40 cases being closed through connecting data and the recovery of stolen property.
"Being able to tie cases together and pull information from our public safety system to help solve cases like this helps us to save time and get criminals off the streets," Munro said. "In a situation like this, our officers and crime analysts take pieces of a puzzle and put them together quickly, which makes it much easier for us to solve crimes."
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