UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL STORIES: As I noted here, there is no economic incentive for police to catch criminals, find your property, or even spend any time at all on the most-demanded police services. One reader wrote to note that as a police officer, revenue, not investigation, was the priority. As a follow up, more readers below discuss how, when you’re a victim, calling the police will do you little good:
In re: your blog post today on LRC, I would like to add some details from my own personal experience. I have been robbed three times in my adultlife — two car break-ins and one home burglary. In none of these cases were the police of even the slightest use, and in two of them they were actively disdainful of me.The first time we were robbed was when we were at the state fair. My wife had left her purse in the car, and we returned to find that it had been stolen, along with several other things (CDs and such). The police in this case were at least pleasant; they took statements from us, gave us contact information, and told us they’d be in touch if they found anything. They never did.
The second time, my car was broken into while it was sitting in my own driveway, and the radio was stolen. The thieves left behind empty beer cans, muddy footprints, and the bloody, broken blade they’d used to pry out the radio (apparently with a bit of trouble). This is a crime scene right out of the cop shows, yeah? Fingerprints everywhere, footprints, blood — surely the boys in blue will be dispensing some criminal justice this time! In reality, we got one bored cop who casually glaced at the car, declared that they wouldn’t be able to help because there wasn’t enough stolen to be worth investigating, and didn’t even bother to take a statement. I asked him if he’d be refunding my state taxes; I don’t think he loved that.
When my house was robbed (we were away at the time), however, quite a lot was taken. We finally got a cop to come “investigate,” by which I mean he wandered through the (obviously cold) crime scene looking scared to death, like he expected bandits were still hiding somewhere in there, and then left a business card and told us he’d be in touch. He never took a statement, and we never heard from him again; I tried calling him several times, always got his voicemail, always left a message, and never got called back. A few weeks later, they busted the guys who (probably) robbed us robbing another house in the same neighborhood where the owner was home and armed. I never got one molecule of property returned to me, nor did I receive any compensation whatsoever. I sure did get to pay for an expensive show-trial, though! Justice is served. No, the police are worse than useless. They lull people into a false sense if security, thinking that, if anything happens, there’s someone there to help. In reality, they’re just there to make a bad situation worse, extracting additional property from you whether you like it or not. If you’re lucky, they don’t kill you in the process.
Pre-2008 when I was a rank neocon and foreign to skepticism of govt, the truth of your post was hammered home to me when my apartment was robbed 3 times in two months. It was while cleaning up the third time that just before I reflexively called the police I asked myself, “what am I going to achieve by telling them?” I suddenly felt very naïve for having called them the two prior times and thinking they would keep an eye out for my cheap power drill and small television. Probably why when Ron Paul removed the wool from my eyes in those debates, I was converted to freedom so suddenly and completely.
It has been said for several decades, “If you don’t like the police then the next time you are robbed you should call a hippie.”As far as I’m concerned, if the insurance company would accept the report, I would just as soon call a hippie. It would accomplish just as much and we would all have a more enjoyable time of it.I have had nearly $1000 of stuff stolen in the past year. Not a bit of it has been reported. Not worth my time and stress. I’ve considered installing cameras and alarms but never considered calling the police.
5:11 pm on August 19, 2014 Email Ryan McMaken
I can’t help wonder if everyone that has the misfortune of dealing with cops and a crime committed against them comes to the same realization that they do nothing to help? I live in a small town, 10,000 people, and have a fancy police force. A few weeks ago some of the young punks, there are many, many of them here, decided it’d be fun to go on a vandal spree. They keyed both of our cars and at least 4 others on our street, then according to police did roughly $10,000 worth of damage to the park near our house. They had no idea who might have done it and their only suggestion was to beg us to install security cameras so they can catch them. The park closes at dusk and virtually every night since there are kids there after dark and no police to chase them away or question them.
If I wasn’t having all my tax money stolen I could easily afford a security system and if police were not interfering I’d be able to deal directly with the kids. Maybe I could lock them up in the closet for a weekend or put them to hard labor in my garden, or make them fill potholes on the street.
Oh but we have plenty of traffic tickets written and they love to do high speed training drills on my narrow residential street. You know, keeping us safe.