Monday, May 11, 2009

Park thieves caught in act

Thefts from cars parked at trailheads, recreation centers, and City parks is a topic that comes up frequently at our monthly ACUDAT meetings. Just last week, I handed Capt. Mike Woolman a document with some analysis of the thefts of this type in Southwest Lincoln—the area hardest hit by these crimes so far this year. The analysis showed that most of these were happening in the afternoons, and that Sunday was the most popular day.

Sgt. Mike Bassett fleshed out some more details from his own review of the individual cases. He learned, for example, that debit cards stolen in these thefts were often being used immediately, many in the Northwest part of Lincoln, and that on a few occasions multiple charges on the same stolen card were made at the same convenience store within a matter of minutes. It appeared the thief was calling friends and family over to fill up.

The Southwest Team redoubled its efforts. On Sunday afternoon, the Team had a bait car in place at this parking lot at the Jamaica North Trailhead, down at the southern tip of Lincoln’s Wilderness Park:

Sgt. Bassett had the bait car under surveillance in Wilderness Park when a pair of thieves struck. He deployed a set of Stop Sticks to prevent the thieves (who arrived in a van) from exiting. You can see how valuable that was, given the layout of the parking area. There's only one way in, and one way out, unless you are on two wheels, four hoofs, or a pair of feet.

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Two arrests were quickly made. Further investigation led to a third person, and the recovery of a large amount of stolen property from various thefts and burglaries. There will be a lot more investigation as a result, and I expect that we will clear several other crimes and make felony arrests.

This was excellent work. I am hopeful that these arrests slow these crimes down. Experience, however, teaches that there are always new crooks in the wings, and that arrests doesn’t always result in the defendant mending his or her ways. Thus, prevention efforts are still strongly recommended.


Anonymous said...

Hook, line, and sinker! I recommend that all readers go take a look at this list, and this page too, especially if your inner optimist tells you that this was probably just a non-habitual mistake. It was anything but. Those links don't even include the prior cases from Pierce County.

Steve said...


I often find myself questioning many of the sting operations I read about in the paper. While I wouldn't necessarily call it entrapment, I sometimes wonder if it is a wise use of our police force. Generally, I'm speaking of the prostitution and computer porn/child predator type things.

In this case, I think it was a great idea, and I'm glad it was productive. Unfortuneately, as you suggested, it probably won't make a big difference in the behavior of those arrested or others who commit similar acts.

Anonymous said...

There ain't no police dog like a good Bassett!

Nice work, Mike!

Anonymous said...


I'm having problems understanding the downside of the computer porn/prostitution stings.
If nothing else it may make some potential criminals stop and think it through. The same way I tend to watch my speed a little closer in place I know there are speed traps. Those "traps" are set in areas where even contentious drivers get lead footed.
Granted, there will ALWAYS be an element that will never think far enough ahead to consider a sting, those are the ones we call "Warning to others".
I don't see how being proactive in these situations can be a bad thing. "Bait cars" won't work on people minding their own business.

Grundle King said...

I find it curious that someone would object to a sting involving sexual crimes, but be okay with stings involving the loss of replaceable possessions.

It's akin to saying, "Don't bother going after the guy who may rape my daughter...I want you to nail that jerk who stole my credit card!!!"

As far as the trail head thing goes...Casady's said it before, and it bears repeating...instead of driving to the trail head, walk/jog/ride your bike there! Or if you are really that far from the trail head, instead of parking your car in the parking lot, maybe find a nearby side street and park there. Doing so might make it less obvious that your car is unattended.

Oh yeah...make sure to roll up the windows and lock it up, too.

Anonymous said...

Great job Sergeant Bassett and the Southwest Team!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I would think that anyone who would yield to the temptation to steal might also give in to an impulse to commit a sexual crime. I am not implying that all sex offenders are thieves or that all thieves are sex offenders BUT both types are willing to break a law. After breaking ONE law it is probably a lot easier to break others.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Good job Mike for setting up the sting. But kudo's to Ofc. Rich Fitch who was given the suspects at the park by Bassett, drove them downtown, got the confession on that theft and got them to talk about the 'ring' and is still doing reports 2 days later. Way to go Rich !!!!

Anonymous said...

Great job to Sgt. Bassett. But I'm wondering why none of the officers who were involved are getting any of the credit? No one else has been metioned when this story has been spoken of and I know from experience, that a lot of work goes into one of these details.

Anonymous said...

Several Officers and a Detective did a lot of work on this case. Most officers do not and should not care who gets the credit as long as the case gets cleared.

I know Sergeant Bassett wishes his name was never mentioned. Great job to all involved.

Steve said...

7:00 am and Grundle King:

First of all, I don't know how you can equate prostitution with rape. Secondly, I didn't say I was totally against these other sting operations. However, some of the stings (not necessarily LPD's) I've heard about seem to create a crime that would not otherwise have occurred. If you make something attractive enough, even otherwise lawabiding citizens might be tempted to "get something for nothing". As for the child predators on the Internet, I think good parenting will make a much bigger dent in these types of things than police officers pretending to be a young girl looking for "excitement".

I guess the real difference to me is that prostitutes (or Johns) and/or kids using the Internet to get their kicks in a risky encounter are both setting themselves up for trouble. Someone parking their car at a trail head so they can jog or ride their bike for pleasure and health is not "asking for trouble" and doesn't deserve to come back to a vandalized/burglarized vehicle.

Anonymous said...

Sergeant Bassett is a top cop who never takes or gets enough credit for the outstanding work he is known for. I do know that one of his greatest attributes is his modesty. He will make sure that all involved Officers get their due credit on this case. As for Sergeant Bassett himself, any city would be proud to have a Department full of Mike Bassett clones. Way to go dude!

JIM J said...

Could you post the photos of the trashy apartment the two lived in?
How many purses were recovered?

Anonymous said...

Good job LPD and even better job catching that sicko that was attacking those women in Havelock!!

Grundle King said...

Where did I get rape?

Quote: "Generally, I'm speaking of the prostitution and computer porn/child predator type things."

Child predator = adult looking to have sex with child = rape (statutory, or otherwise).

Here's the thing...if ANY man has reached the age of 19 without knowing that paying for sex, or sex with someone 15 or younger is wrong (read: illegal)...then they clearly have not been paying attention.

You contend that many of the people caught in such stings only go through with their actions because the police officers, posing as teens or prostitutes, make it so darn attractive. I contend that, no matter how attractive the offer might be, there is no justification for breaking the law...and that without police interference, oftentimes the offenders would be successful in completing their encounters. Indeed, most of them may already have succeeded in victimizing a teen or a woman being controlled by her pimp.

Beerorkid said...

This made me pretty happy to read.

Thanks for the good work.