Burglar captured in the act in Lake Forest Park

Monday, August 26, 2013

On Monday, August 19, 2013 around 10:00am, Lake Forest Park police received a citizen report that a man was using a ladder to climb on a roof and was removing the screen to a bedroom window of a condominium. The resident was reportedly not home. While police responded, the reporting citizen stayed on the phone with dispatch providing crucial updates regarding the suspect’s location and activity. Lake Forest Park officers responded quickly and had the scene contained within three minutes.

Via the 9-1-1 dispatcher, the witness confirmed the suspect had entered the residence and was still inside. Several minutes passed while the unit’s owner was contacted via cell phone. She confirmed no one was supposed to be in her unit and provided police with the number to the phone inside the unit. Police dispatch then contacted the suspect via phone, and advised him that police were outside. The suspect was given specific instructions, whereupon he gave up, exited the unit and was taken into custody without incident.

After-action analysis revealed several points worth reviewing with our community partners. Several of these points were key to the successful outcome of the incident.

Regarding The Citizen Caller:

1) He called 9-1-1 immediately. In any emergency seconds count! Call 9-1-1 as soon as you safely can do so. A delay of even a minute or two can mean the difference between a successful operation and a tragedy.

2) He called from a safe location. The initial location of the caller was fairly safe, but the 9-1-1 operator had the citizen caller get out of sight and behind a locked door. This action created a higher degree of safety for the citizen caller as well as assisted in hiding him from the suspect’s view and maintaining the responding officers’ element of surprise.

3) He provided specific/useful information. The citizen caller provided several important details (i.e. Crime location, description of the suspicious activity, how many suspects, location of the suspect(s), description of any associated vehicle(s), any weapons seen, caller’s location, and etcetera.) To the responders, the value of such information cannot be over stated. TIP: Be prepared to answer specific questions about the activity, the people involved, vehicles involved, and your contact information.

4) He stayed on the line and cooperated with the 9-1-1 operator. By remaining on the line with the 9-1-1 operator, the responding officers were able to gather additional information not only during their response TO the scene, but also after arriving AT the scene.

Resident Tips:

1) Secure your premises. As this incident clearly illustrated, just because a window is on an upper level does NOT mean it is inaccessible or secure. Prior to leaving your premises – or vehicle - unattended, confirm all doors and windows are SECURE. Consider secondary security measures (ex. placing a stick in the window track, leaving a radio turned on inside, exterior lighting, and/or using the Vacation House Check program).

2) Yield to emergency units. Officers were able to quickly negotiate traffic to the scene and deploy while the crime was still in progress.

3) Anticipate multiple emergency units. After the first emergency vehicle passes, be alert for any ADDITIONAL emergency units approaching you. Emergencies are rarely handled with just one vehicle. The second patrol car responding to this call was traveling about 5-seconds behind the first patrol car. Although that 2nd officer was using emergency lights and siren, that officer reported several vehicles pulling back onto the road as the officer approached. TIP: Look and listen carefully before re-entering the road.

4) Stay clear. At one point during this incident, an uninvolved party exited another condo unit and unknowingly entered directly into the ‘hot zone’. Officers gave immediate instructions and the person quickly complied, without question or explanation. The person exited the entire area without delay and went about their business. Police activity seems to attract bystander attention. However, to the emergency responders those bystanders are a significant distraction to their work. TIP: For your safety and for the safety of the responders, stay well clear of the emergency activity. If you inadvertently become involved in the emergency scene, it is imperative that you follow all instructions fully and immediately. Any questions or concerns you may have arising out of the incident should only be addressed AFTER the emergency is under control – not during the emergency.

5) Post emergency contact information. In the incident at hand, the victim had their cell phone number on file with the police. Only by contacting that victim directly were police able to confirm the criminal nature of the activity. TIP: Consider posting at least one emergency contact number in a conspicuous location at your residence. The value of being able to contact an involved resident is often key to an efficient resolution of an emergency.


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