In a recent Uniform Stories post, I wrote about the 13 things guaranteed to drive cops nuts. It occurs to me I left one out that never ceases to bug me to no end:
Saying “we were robbed” when someone broke into your home. While you were gone. As in not there.
My LEO friends that read this post already know what is going to follow, but for you civilians, what follows is an important distinction in the law.
What you meant to say was your home/car was burglarized. One cannot rob a thing. Your home and car, as much as you may love them, are still things.
Here’s the boring penal code definition:
PC 211. Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.
“From his person or immediate presence” and “…by means of force or fear” are the keys to meeting the definition of robbery. If your home gets broken into whilst you’re at the grocery story, your person is not present to have your possessions taken from you against your will by means of force or fear.
Your home doesn’t have the cognitive capacity to be afraid…again, because it’s a thing.
If you call dispatch and scream at them “I’VE BEEN ROBBED!”, visions of a man putting a gun to your head or forcibly ripping your purse out of your hands goes through the dispatcher’s head and that is the way the call will be dispatched. (Mind you, if that actually happened, you’re all clear to say you’ve been robbed…because: Accurate.)
Now that you know the difference between the two, here are some important things to pass along to the dispatcher when you call to report your home being burglarized:
1. Let us know if the house has been checked. “But it’s not my job to check the house!” you say. While you are correct, you may be surprised to find that many people will simply enter the place where crime has occurred completely oblivious to the fact that someone may still be inside as well as completely screwing up any evidence left behind. This can be accomplished by touching things, moving things, or simply walking around in a crime scene.
2. When you call in the crime, let us know if you were gone for a few hours or if you just got back from a two-week Mediterranean cruise. If you’ve been gone for weeks, the window of opportunity was significantly larger and the response will likely not be as imperative in comparison to you just interrupted the crime and you saw a [insert suspect description here] hopping your neighbor’s fence.
3. I know I mentioned this above, but it bears repeating:
Don’t freaking touch anything!
It may seem a trite pet peeve, but I promise you it’s a very important distinction to those of us carrying badges and guns.