Ask a Trooper

Posted: Monday, January 29, 2001

Question: My husband and I are having a debate we hope you can settle. Someone broke into our shed and took some of our tools, including a chain saw. My husband says we shouldn't bother the troopers with it because you will never find who did it, and you have better things to do. I say we should report it in case some of this stuff turns up. What do you think?

Answer: I think you should definitely report it, for several reasons. First, as you said, if these items do turn up, we want to get them back to you. For example, if we catch a burglar in another case who also admits to taking your things, they sometimes can't remember where they took them from. (It happens more than you think. One burglar is usually responsible for several burglaries in the area.) If your things have been reported to us as stolen, then we have a much better chance of getting them back to you, instead of leaving them in evidence.

Second, we don't know about most property crimes until they are reported. That means that if there are a rash of break-ins and no one reports them, we don't know that we should be dedicating extra resources to that area. The best method that we have of tracking criminal activity in a community is looking at what crimes have been reported, then using those reports to decide where to concentrate our efforts.

As far as your husband's concerns about not getting your things back, there is one thing you can do to help. Engrave your social security number or driver's license number on your valuables and make sure to record the serial numbers of all items that have them (guns, chain saws, bikes, etc.). Then we can enter these items into the computer as stolen, and if they do turn up in a pawn shop or elsewhere, they easily can be identified and returned.

If you have questions that you would like to ask a trooper, please send them to: Alaska State Troopers, 4060 Heath St., Homer, AK 99603. Or you can e-mail them to The Alaska State Troopers remind you to always wear your seat belt. It's the law.

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