On the beat: Beat manager Martin Hudd's column
I'VE often written that one of the most despicable offences we have to deal with as police officers are domestic burglaries. They can have a profound effect on somebody's life, and on more than one occasion I have listened to victims of burglaries tell me that they will have to move due to the fact they no longer feel able to live in the same house again.
It is therefore right that domestic burglaries are given the appropriate priority in an attempt to catch the offenders involved.
One of the things that I am regularly asked when I attend a report of a domestic burglary is what can the occupants do?
A victim of a burglary will always want to try to get things back to normal as soon as possible and will have to fight the desire to replace drawers which may have been ransacked, or tidy up a room where items may have been strewn across the floor by an offender looking for items to steal.
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There are a few simple things that we ask when attending a burglary.
Firstly the occupant will no doubt have discovered where the offender had broken in and therefore any possible forensic evidence like footprints, tool marks or blood should be left in place and where possible covered over to ensure they are not disturbed.
The natural inclination is to tidy up and as it is highly unlikely that forensic evidence will be retrieved from rough surfaces or clothing (unless the said blood or DNA is present) then these can be placed back.
Items with smooth or shiny surfaces give us the greatest chance of forensic recovery and when possible should be left either in situ or carefully put to one side.
Occasionally an offender will drink from a can, cup or similar vessel and again this can give vital DNA clues.
A lot of the time the victim of a burglary is upset and confused. And although they may try to be as helpful as possible the chances are they may forget to mention certain things.
This isn't a problem as each reported crime is given a unique reference number which should be passed onto the victim by the investigating officer.
This will allow them to contact our crime service desk and add or amend anything they wish to the report
Each burglary we attend is automatically tagged for our crime scene investigators to attend.
They will be aware of that requirement and will visit as soon as practicable. Show and tell them exactly what you told the investigating officer and as they are the experts they will evaluate each piece of possible forensic evidence.
They will, if required, take photographs and swabs. They will also attempt to answer any questions that you may have and if fingerprints are found, could also ask to take the occupants fingerprints for elimination purposes.