Accurate and detailed descriptions of criminals can go a long way towards securing their arrest.
“Security companies and law enforcement agencies need to have an accurate description of the suspect to assist them in tracking down the perpetrator,” says Stuart Clarkson, Managing Executive for Fidelity ADT.
The most important things to remember, says Clarkson, are the following:
- If you become the victim of a crime, don’t make direct eye contact with the perpetrator;
- Make mental notes of what the person was wearing, and be as precise as possible. This includes logos, colours, and any other distinguishing marks;
- Was there anything striking about the way the person spoke? Did he/she speak with a lisp, or with an accent?
- Do you recall any distinguishing facial features, tattoos or scars?
- If there was a getaway vehicle involved, what make/ model/ colour was it? Did you see the number plates or any other distinguishing features such as mag-wheels or scratch marks?
Once you have all this information you are then in a much better position to write a police report which is usually completed by either the victim or a witness.
The following points are important when writing your report and can do much to assist the police in apprehending the suspects:
- Include as much detail as possible: You will need to include as much of the detail as you observed above in the report so as to make it credible and helpful to police officers during their investigation. Clarkson says it is important to take your time to make a mental list of all the points so no detail is left out.
- Make notes as soon as possible: If you are a witness to a crime, you will need to make notes about what you saw. Do this as soon as possible after the crime happened so that you won’t forget or mix up any important details. Studies have revealed that our memories of events change with time and can become distorted if not written down immediately.
- Remember events in sequence: Take your time to recall the sequence of events during a crime as these can greatly assist the investigation.
- Get a police report form: If you are a crime victim or witness, chances are that you are not used to writing police reports, and so you may not have an idea of how to write one. In this case, visit the nearest police department or use the internet to find out how to fill in and file a police report. After implementing the tips above, you can start writing your report. Alternatively fill out the report given to you at your police station in a logical and legible format.
“Remember you need to start your report by describing the crime scene. Use concrete and descriptive words that will help the police have a clear picture of what you are describing and include all details such as the address of the crime scene, evidences of the crime, and the date and time of the crime. Then give a chronological narrative of what happened and explain everything you witnessed at the crime scene.”
“Becoming a victim of crime or even witnessing a crime is understandably a scary and traumatic experience, and your first instinct is not always to be calm and observant. It is important to bear in mind the above points can greatly assist law enforcement agencies in identifying the suspect and hopefully quickly putting them behind bars,” concludes Clarkson.