Burglary is the unlawful entry into someones home with an intention of stealing property. Burglary also represents one of the most common crimes to which police officers respond to. It’s deeply saddening when someone has to return to his home after a long day of work and find out that the doors are open and important things have gone missing. From here the police will usually be called and an investigation will take place.
In most cases, there would be no witnesses to this kind of crime, making the gathering of evidence from the scene very crucial. Police officers have their own ways of gathering evidence by applying some of their professional techniques.
Burglary Investigation- The Procedure
Approaching the Scene of Burglary
As anyone New Zealand resident who’s been burgled will know, the NZ police will often take many hours if not more than a day to respond. Generally the only time you can expect a prompt response is your arrival home causes the burglars to flee from the scene or neighbors called the police to inform them of the robbery taking place
Securing the Scene
The scene should be undisturbed to gather significant evidence. The residents or victims should be discouraged from doing any form of tidying up or cleaning. At the same time, movements inside the house should be limited to areas where there is no evidence connected to the burglary.
If it’s possible, police officers should escort the residents to a separate area and conduct the interview while the other investigators are still processing the location.
Interviewing the Witnesses
No one ever knows their house better than the victims. They are the ones who can point out the things that have been disturbed or missing. They also know the areas where the doors and windows may have been broken. Victims should be asked about recent visitors to their homes. Many times a burglar would visit a home under false pretenses just to take a look around and return after a few days to burglarize the property. If an inspector or a salesman has been to the house without appointment, it’s worth checking as well.
Police officers would also be interviewing the neighbors in case they have seen or heard anything suspicious. Although burglars would often go unnoticed, neighbors can sometimes recall seeing a suspicious vehicle in the area.
Processing the Crime Scene
It is very important to locate the point where the burglar has gained entry to the property. This area gives a lot of clues and is also the best place to gather helpful evidence. For instance, the point of forced entry can give a clue to the kind of tool or instrument the burglar used during the break in. There are times when these tools may get broken, leaving some physical evidence behind.
After finding the point of entry, all windows and doors should be checked to find out if there was an attempt to open them. Close attention should also be given to the ground outside in case of some footprints as these can tell if there were multiple burglars, and a way to estimate the weight and size of the individual.
Another clinching evidence that can help pinpoint a burglar is the fingerprint. The crime scene should be powdered to get both complete and partial fingerprints. The best way to find fingerprints would be on the smooth surfaces and glasses. The problem is most burglars are smart enough to know they should be wearing gloves and all but the most amateur or opportunistic burglars will be caught this way.
Following the Trail
In the case of burglary, cash may be difficult to trace, but not the items taken by the burglar. Credits cards for instance, leave a paper trail that can be tied to video evidence from stores which may show the burglar. Second hand stores and pawnshops on the other hand, need to be alerted with a list of stolen items and ask them to contact the investigating officer in case anyone brings an item from the list to the store.
The main focus of any burglary investigation is to recover stolen property or items and seek out evidence to ensure prosecution of offenders. However, as residents and homeowners, you also play a vital role in the safety of your home. Make sure that you lock all points of entry when leaving the house. Most of all, it pays to install a security system or a surveillance camera in the area to deter burglars and maintain the safety of your family and property at all times.