The Lincoln Police Department has just announced the availability of online reporting for citizens who wish to report certain kinds of property crime with a loss of less than $500. If someone walked off with your walking lawn sprinkler, broke the sapling in your side yard off, or lifted your cell phone from the bench at the gym while you showered, you can now make a report online if you prefer.
We're more than happy to dispatch a police officer to these crimes, too. It's entirely up to the victim. We will handle these like any other crime report: the case will be reviewed by the shift commander, follow-up investigation will be assigned if it appears likely to be fruitful, and we will notify you if we subsequently locate the stolen property or make an arrest.
Online reporting has been discussed here in Lincoln for years, and many other cities have implemented this previously. We have intentionally delayed because we frankly prefer to investigate even minor crimes in person. There is, however, a growing demand for online reporting from people who want to let us know about a crime, make sure there is an official record, and would prefer to do so as conveniently as possible. People have been finding ways to report electronically that aren't very efficient: sending an email, for example, or even posting on my blog. I The demand has risen to the point that we think online reporting, rather than representing a downgrade to our customer service, is actually an enhancement.
I'm one of those people who would appreciate the convenience of online reporting. If I were the victim of a small-loss vandalism or theft with no suspect, I would still feel obligated to report the offense. I'd want to police to know about my minor crime just in case it is part of a larger series, an emerging pattern, or in the event that the miscreants have been identified from another related case. The easiest way for me to do so, however, would be online submission. If I could make the report in my flannel jammies and fuzzy slippers, that would be my preference.
Last time I showed up in jammies and slippers at HQ, people looked at me funny.