Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting tougher

The two stories of failed crimes in my post yesterday are examples of why getting away with crime has gotten quite a bit tougher in the past few years, in my opinion. These pages contain many other examples (just click on the “candid camera” or “crimes” tag in my label cloud.

Yesterday, Officer David Koso cleared up a relatively minor crime, but one that is also a good example. Back on July 21st, he investigated a shoplifting case at a convenience store. A copy of Hot Rod magazine was allegedly taken by a man who was accompanied by a woman (she drove.) Cameras at the store caught her at the check stand, and the two of them beside her car in the parking lot.

We posted these photos on our Crimestoppers blog, and pretty quickly got a tip identifying the woman. Reading incoming tips at home that morning, I checked the woman’s mug shot, and low and behold—although the surveillance photo is a little fuzzy, it looked like a match. Then I clicked the link to her registered motor vehicles: only one, a 1994 red Chrysler LeBaron convertible. Bingo. The parking lot camera wasn't the best, but the vehicle was unmistakeable.

Sgt. Grant Richards in our Crime Analysis Unit also received an email from an FBI agent in another state. He’s a former LPD officer, and a regular visitor to our websites and reader of our blogs in his personal time. He, too, recognized the woman in the photo.

It’s taken a couple months to locate and cite the suspect, because both he and the woman have been in and out of separate jails in different counties, and we really needed to find her for an interview first. That was accomplished earlier this week, and Officer Koso ran him down yesterday, though, and provided him with a fresh court date to take back to his cell block.

The proliferation of cameras is just one of the reasons it’s gotten tougher to get away with crime. In policing, we are also getting better and collecting the digital crumbs suspects are leaving behind. Immersed in the information stream of our databases and information resources, and tapped into a growing social network you have some tools and sources today that would amaze the detectives I envied in 1974.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Decent DVR systems just get cheaper and cheaper.

Regarding A9-094317 on the crimestoppers blog, did that car have any kind of "locking" lug nuts mounted to slow down potential wheel thieves, or just the regular type of lug nuts?

Tom Casady said...


No specific mention of that in the reports, but apparently not.

Anonymous said...

The real criminals will always be a step ahead

Trevor Brass said...

The camera work reminds me of London's "Ring of Steel" surveillance system installed in the 1990s to deter the Provisional Irish Republican Army threat (and today of domestic jihad). However, with an internal (London) Metropolitan Police report released recently that admitted less than 1 crime was solved per year for every 1000 CCTV cameras in London. It gives one pause of the cost/benefit calculation.

This means citizens give up a good chunk of privacy in exchange for a relatively minor benefit in stopping crime. However, most of these cameras are installed on public streets and areas versus mostly private surveillance as seen in most Crimestoppers cases (and in the US as a whole).

While some may say "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" I don't think this logically connects. Trusting governmental discretion is hardly reassuring, especially with the "chilling effect" surveillance can have on free speech. I finish with a quote: "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."

Tom Casady said...

Trevor Brass-

I saw that report on 1 crime cleared for 1,000 cameras in London, and found it a bit hard to believe. I'd love to know what the methodology was. We've solved several this month from video.

Don't know what could up with the Metropolitan Police--maybe they need to do what we're doing (if they aren't already): get the frame shots of suspects out to the general public.

None of the photos on our crimestoppers blog are from government cameras--these are all from private businesses.

Anonymous said...

Trevor says "relatively minor benefit in stopping crime".
This is the point of the blog today. Most cams in Lincoln are poor in showing the image. Most of the time spent on this petty crime is much better spent in other areas. It is a good thing the blog is not read by many tax paying people. Shame shame shame

Anonymous said...

I think most of the Metro cameras in London feed to a huge monitoring center staffed by people that look at monitors, which is probably why they solve so few crimes with them. Hoodies become the preferred uniform of the yobs, and you just merely ambulances to clean up the dead guy that just got knifed on-camera by completely unidentifiable assailants.

Tom Casady said...


I strongly disagree. There is a good body of literature concerning the impact of enforcing minor crime on reducing major crime. Ever here of "broken windows" theory? Have you been to Times Square in the past decade? Have you compared Lincoln's violent crime rate to other cities of our size?

The jaspers sticking up grocery stores and mugging people at ATMs are also driving while suspended, shoplifting, grabbing backpacks from unlocked cars, stealing bicycles, and so forth. If you can keep pressure on the criminal element--even for minor crimes--you make the environment less hospitable for thier chosen trade.


Yes, I think there's a big difference between public-place cameras with a wide field of view and low resolution, and a convenience store camera trained on the check stand.

Anonymous said...

That is nice It is too bad you don't have the same attitude about traffic enforcement, specifically Stop sign and stop light enforcement. I have seen people run lights right in front of those that are paid to enforce the laws. I have also seen those who are paid to enforce the laws break the laws they are paid to enforce. It has been, and is still my opinion that you should be fired for dereliction of duty. Because of this myself and many others have been hurt or disabled, time and time again. Try spending a day in our shoes.

Anonymous said...

Wow My comment may not be posted if you don't like it. Typical of the Lincoln Police Department under your tutelage. Just another reason you should be fired. Try being fair, I made a legitimate complaint to you Please post it.

Steve said...


Good response to the accusation that too much time/money is spent on the petty crimes. It's the old nip-it-in-the-bud thing where stopping people prone to criminal behavior is best done before they graduate to bigger things. But, as you said, it also nabs a lot of people who have already graduated but still practice the petty stuff as well. It's hard to believe how many people commiting serious crimes are so stupid as to get caught because they failed to fix a tail light or to properly register their car.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Chief-Trooper Hanger of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol should have never stopped a car for no license plate on the day of the Murrah Center bombing. He probably had better things to do , like looking for the bomber. Fortunately, Tim McVeigh didn't have a license plate that day. Good police work, whether a traffic stop, a petty arrest, or good observation, often leads to other things.


Tom Casady said...

2:34/3:47/3:51 -

Wow, you gave me a whole 4 minutes before complaining that your complaint wasn't posted!

So, let me get this straight: you don't want us to waste your tax dollars on minor crimes like petty theft and shoplifing, but you do want us to issue more traffic tickets.

Just FYI, Lincoln police officers have issued 64,924 traffic citations through the end of August this year. They are about half and half, warning tickets and official tickets.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of traffic tickets (4:00), see this recent article from Slate.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:47

Use some common sense. If someone violates a traffic law in front of an officer and he/she doesn't stop them it is probably because the officer is on the way to something a little more pressing.

Same thing if an officer violates a traffic law. He/she is probably on the way to help someone. It's not like TV where the lights and sirens are going on the way to all calls.

Why isn't this posted yet?!?!? Oh wait, I have to hit enter and wait for approval. Duh!

Greg Soukup said...

First off, anyone who won't sign their posts or use their real name to post with has no credence whatsoever. Posting anonymously makes people feel invisible and invincible. Too bad they don't have the confidence in their convictions to own up to their statements.

Secondly, and most importantly the people who dress in blue and protect all of us daily are heroes by every definition of the word. No, they don't stop every crime but only because they simply don't have the manpower or time to do so and must concentrate on what's of the highest import at the time. Given their record, I'd say that they do a darned fine job of getting most of it handled.

The LPD has at their disposal innumerable tools to stop/prevent/clear crims and to not take advantage of them is ridiculous.

I can't help but wonder what my father would have thought about everything that the department has nowadays as far as technological advances. It's flat night and day from 1966.

Keep up the good work Chief, and the same to the rest of the officers.

Anonymous said...

To 3:47. I find it ironic that you want others to walk in your shoes, but you don't open your eyes to walking in others. Try walking in the shoes of a cop for a day! Don't judge others just by your perceptions. There are usually reasons behind actions you see by officers.

Anonymous said...

Chief, You informed the poster's of how many traffic tickets we write but maybe it's time for them to see a graph and compare our departments traffic enforcement to the other town's and cities in our state. They'll see how lucky they are to have such a great department.

Anonymous said...

It's just great that everywhere you look there's a camera watching you. To hell with privacy it's everybody's business what you do, especially the government. Can't wait until cameras are required in everyone's house.

Anonymous said...

to Anonymous 4:30. I think your confused. There is no privacy when you're in public, thats why they call it that... PUBLIC. Privacy is only enjoyed in Private places....

Here endeth the lesson.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:24 is brillant Tom, he should be the chief. Why didn't you think of that?