Camelot Neighborhood Association

Burglary Detectives -- Unplugged

by Judi Cheek

Burglary Detectives Clint McNear and Ty Schaum gave Garland crime watch coordinators from around the city an idea of what their working life is like at the August 2004 meeting at the Police Department. Introduced as two of the hardest working detectives in the entire department by NPO Chris Trusty, the two detectives pulled no punches in talking to their citizen audience.

Detectives McNear and Schaum handle 100 or more cases at a time; they say that they seldom solve more than 30% of these cases. Most of the solved cases come not from McNear and Schaum’s considerable efforts but from patrol officers who stop the burglar or go to his home for another reason and spot a suspicious amount of merchandise. Detective Schaum says that most situations that don’t look “normal” are situations that police officers have learned to investigate further. Most of us don’t drive around with several TV sets and other electronic items in our cars; most of us don’t keep stacks of lawn equipment, electronic items, and jewelry in our homes.

The detectives say that most burglars pawn stolen items very quickly. They often use the same pawnshop because they have a comfortable relationship with the owner. Like the police, the pawnshop owners know that someone pawning three lawn mowers over a period of a month is not “normal,” but they get out of having to report anything by saying they had no proof that the items are stolen. The pawnshop owners sell items for considerably more than they pay for them so they certainly have no motivation to help the police except in those areas where they are legally required to do so.

What makes it so easy for the pawnshop owners and burglars to keep doing business as usual? It’s us, folks. We are the ones who make it so easy for the bad guys and so darn hard for the good guys. If Detectives McNear and Schaum have brand name, model number, and serial number for our stolen items, they can immediately notify the pawnshop owners, who are legally required to let the police know if they have purchased these items. The detectives can then get the name of the person who sold them to the pawn shop. They can further pull up the record of that person and all items sold over a period of time and compare them to items reported stolen in other burglaries. If even some of us would do what we have been told by the police to do—keep a list of possessions by brand, model and serial numbers—the number of solved burglaries would rise appreciably and with a lot less time and effort by these overworked detectives. The bad guys would go to jail, and many more of us would get our possessions back.

Detective McNear says that there are two big advantages to an alarm system. One is the actual loud alarm that goes off when someone breaks in, and the other one is the sign by the front door notifying one and all that the house has an alarm system. He says both are deterrents. Burglars do not want a confrontation, and they don’t want to make any more noise than they can help so they will often forgo breaking in a house with an alarm system. Both detectives say that a quick response by the police rarely happens because the alarm company will make several calls before even notifying the police. Home alarm calls are rarely a priority with patrol officers because over 95% of occurrences are false alarms.

Both Detective McNear and Detective Schaum have lists of their belongings with the required numbers and pictures of all jewelry. They list everything that might be taken: all electronic equipment, cameras, lawn equipment, guns, some kitchen equipment (microwave, etc.).

The next time that you want to complain about the crime rate or not having enough police officers, or police officers not doing enough to solve crimes, ask yourself this question. Have you compiled the list that would allow Detective Clint McNear or Detective Ty Schaum to have a fighting chance of solving your burglary? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Posted by txclogger on 11/01/2004
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Garland, Texas 75044



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