elasto wrote:I wonder if it's a lack of resources thing or them just getting jaded. It's probably a bit of both.
Little of both. Most police departments are staffed at levels that force them to prioritize resources when it comes to actual investigations... and the unfortunate reality when it comes to things like break-ins is that 1) it's very difficult to find the thieves, and 2) it's very difficult to get an actual conviction. Most small timers get deals that make the time and effort not worth it.
One time I woke up in the morning to find my front door had been prised open but I couldn't see anything missing. When I got to my car I found it wasn't parked quite where I left it and my seat had been pushed back. Super weird!
I called the police but they weren't very interested. Not sure they even dusted for prints.
Well, from their perspective, you have your car, nobody was hurt, and the odds of them finding the people who took it are extremely remote. And even if they do find them, chances are they'll get off with almost nothing; so really no point in finding them.
As an aside, as far dusting for prints goes... it's actually pretty difficult to get good prints from something like a car, because your car will typically be covered in your own prints and the prints of people who've ridden with you, borrowed the car, etc, etc... and picking out the suspect prints from all of the legit ones would be next to impossible, because they'd literally have to examine each print - way too time consuming to be remotely feasible. The same applies for your house; there are just too many legit prints in a typical house to make it feasible.
If they're dealing with something truly serious like a murder or a kidnapping, that's a different matter; but they're not going to expend the time or resources for a robbery, unless they have some very specific item that they believe will hold a usable print.
It was only subsequently that I remembered that my downstairs neighbour had knocked on my door the previous evening asking if I had any cigarettes. I did not. Draw your own conclusion...
Benefit of the doubt interpretation, your neighbor was out of cigarettes. More cynical interpretation, he was scoping your house; just by answering the door you give him a chance to look inside and see what you have, signs of a security system, etc. Even more cynical interpretation, he was checking to see if you were home...
A week or two later I had another break-in - this time a panel on my front door had been forced out, and they'd come upstairs and stolen my wallet. Unfortunately I was only a few days away from heading to Vegas on holiday so he took a lot of cash I had already exchanged up. I don't have any memory of the police doing much that time either.
Again, not a whole lot they can do realistically, but take your information. Cash is incredibly difficult to track down, and your wallet was probably thrown in the trash somewhere. Even if they find it, it'd be incredibly difficult to prove who took it. In that kind of situation, unless you've got a witness to the actual break-in, or the perp uses one of your cards, it's pretty hopeless.
The silver lining was that I moved all my stuff into a friend's place for while I would be on holiday. And it was a good thing I did because I got a call while in Vegas to say that my downstairs neighbour, after failing to break through the now reinforced front door had broken through his ceiling and through my stairs and got into my property that way. Yeah, a real criminal master mind at work there, like a lowbrow episode of Ocean's One or something...
Ok so there were obviously severe mental issues involved there, and I'm not even entirely sure what the point of my story is, but it feels like someone could have done something earlier to help this guy.
Mental issues is a possibility. Drug addiction is another - addicts will do some absolutely crazy shit if they need money. It's also possible that he owed money to someone who was worrisome enough to risk it.
Rather like your broken windows example, it's not that broken windows in and of themselves need a disproportionate response from law enforcement, but they are a signal that something is going badly wrong, and professional intervention in some capacity is warranted. Likewise the fact that someone took my car and returned it should have been a trigger to someone that some deeper digging needed to occur...
Sure, but again it comes down to resources. They know your car was taken and returned, they know your wallet was taken... that the two could be related is obvious. But what are they going to do about it? Even if they add additional patrol to your neighborhood, that's what - maybe a couple of extra passes per day in a patrol car? Even your neighbor is probably going to be smart enough to not try to break in while the patrol car is rolling by. It's incredibly unlikely that they have resources to post any sort of long-term watch on your neighborhood.
You didn't tell them about your neighbor asking for cigarettes - but even if you had, so what? It's not against the law to ask for cigarettes. Granted, just because they're cops they're probably going to at least consider that he was scoping your place out or checking to see if you were home... but again, so what? There is nothing they can actually *do* based on that because he still hadn't broken any laws. It might make them look at him more closely in the event that other crimes in the area happen, but that's about the best you can expect.