Saturday, November 17, 2007

Crime in Your Denver Neighborhood

Now, finally, you can access up-to-date crime reports in your neighborhood from your computer.

Go here and enter your choices. Depending on the distance (50 to 5000 ft) you'll get a map like one of those above detailing the occurrence of crimes in the last 6 months. Thanks to the Department of Safety for letting us join the 21st century.

Some years back we had a "crime wave" in my neighborhood. My building was broken into 12 times in a few months by the same person (same m.o.). Others in the neighborhood reported similar crimes, but we had no way to get this kind of overview. Each break-in was reported, and each time a different detective would show up and take my story. There was no coordination, and no attempt was made to actually find the burglar. I learned then that these cases were called "stampers", i.e. stamped and put in a file. The fingerprints taken each time were not checked against any database, and were to be used only if a suspect was apprehended.

I was warned by one detective not to try to interfere with the buglar. If I hurt him, I would be sued by his family and they would "end up with my building". If he was a gang member, they would target me. The detective shrugged when I asked him what I was supposed to do.

Fed up, I waited up one night for this crack-head and finally, and regrettably, disregarding the advice I had been given, I took a shot at him as he was breaking into my basement. I missed.

The police responded very quickly to a "shots fired" report and took my gun away from me. The bullet had gone through the window and out into the neighborhood. (BTW, firing a .357 Magnum three feet from a concrete wall in the basement is not a good idea - I am partially deaf in my right ear as a result.)

I had to report to the Police Headquarters downtown the next day, and there I learned that I was now the suspect, ( in the illegal discharge of a weapon) not the burglar, and I also learned the details of the make-my-day law. Three criteria must be met: 1.) It must be a break in - if the burglar comes in through an open or unlocked door or window, it doesn't qualify, 2.) It must be your home, not your office or car, and 3.) (the easy part) You must fear for your life.

After a two-hour wait and a 15-minute interview, I was deemed to have qualified, and my gun (sans bullets) was returned.

This episode put me through some real head trips, and I was actually glad that I had not killed the man over a $100 microwave (although he had cost me over $12,000 in stolen items and damage by that time).

I was, however, pleased when I learned that a neighbor at 13th and Ogden had shot and killed him about two weeks later under very similar circumstances (one shot to the heart from a semi-automatic 9mm). As far as I know, the police were never able to identify the thief, because in his apartment he had nothing but stolen I.D.

This one thief had been responsible for hundreds of burglaries in my neighborhood, all within walking distance of his apartment, as he had no car. I tried to tell the detectives this, since he always took two trash bags to carry the loot. But no one was even trying to solve the crimes as far as I could tell. After his death, the "crime-wave" was over, and life went back to normal.

Hopefully this mapping system has allowed the detectives to more quickly apprehend the criminals. It has been in operation for a number of years, and they have now made it available to us.

Be alert - the world needs more lerts.


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