Thursday, August 26, 2010

A tale of two thefts

On 25 August 2010, there was a story on the internet about the theft in Madison, Wisconsin of a bag of one Myers family containing, among other things a wallet with cash, credit cards, hotel keys, rental car keys, and an iPad. The novelty of the story was that the bag was stolen while the Myers family was posing for a photo in front of the Wisconsin capitol, and the picture captured the thief in the act.

The story had a happy ending. reported: When I saw the guy with his hand in my bag, I ran back inside and found the Capitol Police. They were amazing. They immediately sent out a description of the thief using the photo I took. In a few minutes, one officer had found him still in the area. The thief had dumped some things from the bag in a nearby trash can — the flash for my camera, a small backpack of kids toys, a bag of cables, extra SD cards, my mini tripod — but still in my bag were my wallet with cash, credit cards, hotel keys, rental car keys, and my iPad.

Another theft, on August 26, 2010 in Hamilton Township, NJ, had a much different ending. Two people had brought a lawnmower in a truck to mow a lawn. They went into the house to get ready. When they returned a few minutes later, the mower was gone. The Hamilton Township police were called and stated a car would be sent over. After over an hour, no car, and the victims phoned the police and offered to drive to the Hamilton Police Headquarters to make a report. The victims went to the station, waited in line for a receptionist, and then were told to call on an internal phone. On the phone, they were told it would take 1 to 2 hours to make the report. There was so much "active crime" going on, that there were no police to take the report, or to do anything about the theft. Thefts that had already occurred were not a high priority. If the Hamilton approach had been applied in Madison, it is unlikely the information would have been timely received, and there would have been no internet sensation.


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