What do you do when you think you see a theft in progress?

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Topic: What do you do when you think you see a theft in progress?

Announcements December 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm

What do you do when you think you see a theft in progress?

 I just saw what I thought was a bike theft in front of my house on Park and 13th (dude was sketch, playing with the lock and another dude was in a car with the passenger door open, watching him). I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, so I ran my 2 minute errand next door and asked the employees of the market if they had a bike locked out front, which they didn’t. I planned on calling the cops as soon as got in the house (I didn’t have my phone on me), but when I went back out, the front wheel was stolen and the men were gone. I feel bad that I didn’t say something to them, but as a woman I don’t feel very comfortable confronting two men over something I’m not sure is happening, especially when one of them saw me leave my house and knows where I live. I also feel lame for not having my phone on me, as I would have liked to at least taken video or photos to give to the cops. What would y’all have done in this situation? Thanks for any advice.

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I was walking with my boyfriend down barracks row, in the early evening in the summer. Still light out, and many people eating outside just a half a block up. We see two boys (12-13 years old?) next to a bike rack, one pulls out a bolt cutter, and cuts the lock right in front of us. Without thinking I said (not too forcefully) “Hey, don’t do that”, and kind of kept walking. My boyfriend however, stood there talking to the kids until the older one finally told the other that they were going to leave, not before the younger told me “I should smack that ice cream out of your hands.” I was kind of shaken up afterwards, you never know I guess if someone older is wiating somewhere else you know? In hindsight I should have called the police, probably even kept walking and called the police without them knowing, while trying to observe as much about their descriptions as possible. (In your case maybe noting the license plate number?)
His POV was that you can’t just not stand up to crime, and that he can’t be afraid of kids that age since his plan is to be teaching them. I kind of felt unconfortable for getting personally invovled, so I really think it is fair to follow your personal level of comfort for what feels safe to you.


You responded as fast as you felt comfortable. I think the police don’t recommend that civilians try to interrupt crime and threaten their own security. And you don’t need video to have cops believe you saw a theft. It’s not like you have a history of hallucinations or any self-interest in the matter.

I usually pretend to be the “helpful naif” –  Oh, do you need some help with that?  I could go get a wrench if you need it.  Oh, did you lock yourself out?  You know the cops have those jimmy things to unlock your car, would you like me to call them for you?  Oh, you locked yourself out of your house?  Bummer, I’ve done that – wait here, I’ll get a stool so you can reach that window. . .
If they are kids I just go full-on old-fashion scolding – What are you doing?  Does this bring honor to you and your family?  What would you think if someone stole that from /said that to (etc.) your mother.   It is essential to guilt them to death – talk to them like the real misguided small humans they are – not just curse their stealing punk asses and give them a reason to rage against your machine.

I scream at the bastards as loud as I can and call 911. “Hey, what the F*uck are you doing!” goes a long way. Worked for me both times. These aren’t tough people, that’s why they are stealing things. . .

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