A new online system will now allow Seattle citizens to file a police report themselves when victimized by “low level” property crimes. According to the Seattle Times, this “empowers” the people and frees them from having to wait on the police. The real motivation behind the move, however, is likely budgetary rather than community empowerment.
The system is designed for people who have been the victims of property offenses that are valued at less than $500 and where the suspect is unknown or there doesn’t seem to be much information available. Thefts, property damage, car break-ins, and identity theft are all included in the group of offenses police want the people to document.
Detective Mark Jamieson reports the system is not for emergencies and is merely an option. This isn’t the case in Oakland, CA, another city “empowering” its citizens to file their own reports.
The City of Oakland announced last week that it wouldn’t be sending police out for these types of offenses, that they simply don’t have the resources. While the system is an “option” in Seattle, it’s very likely that it could one day turn into a mandatory practice.
Property offenses like these take time for the police to respond to, file the report, and follow up on the little bit of investigating. By requiring the citizens to do this aspect of the work, the city saves money and man hours.
In most of these low-level property offenses, the suspect is never identified and certainly never caught. Unless the victim knows who did it, the police are far more likely to spend their time pursuing more serious criminal cases.
If and when a thief or other low level property crime violator is caught, they can expect to face charges in the criminal courts. While their outcome won’t likely be as harsh as those accused of more serious offenses, their crime won’t go completely unpunished.
If you are facing misdemeanor theft or malicious mischief charges, I may be able to help. Even if the charge is more serious, we can talk about what kind of outcome you could see in court and what your options are.
If this is your first run-in with the law, the chances you will serve probation in lieu of jail time are significantly increased. If you have a criminal record, however, all hope is not lost.
Contact our attorneys today to discuss the charges you are facing.