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ASK A COP: Can I report suspicious activity to the police?
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ASK A COP: Can I report suspicious activity to the police?

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Q. Are robbery and burglary the same thing?

A. While both of these crimes include a theft, they have very distinct differences. A burglary includes forcibly breaking and entering any real estate or improvement with the intent to commit any felony or the intent to steal property of any value. Burglary is a class IIA felony.

Robbery is when a person forcibly and by violence (or putting in fear) takes from the person money or personal property of any value. Robbery is a class II felony.

Even though the person is stealing property in both instances, the biggest difference is how the stealing occurs.

Q. When I review my security cameras sometimes I see random people on my property trying to open the door on my garage or house; can this be reported to law enforcement or is it a crime?

A. Yes, it can be reported and should be for several reasons. First off, just because nothing is missing or damaged doesn’t necessarily mean there wasn’t a crime committed. In this instance, if someone wanders into your garage (let’s assume it’s unlocked) and goes through your property but doesn’t steal anything and doesn’t damage anything, there are still a couple of violations here.

One would be molesting property which is a Scottsbluff city ordinance. There’s a portion of the ordinance that reads, “or in any manner disturb or molest any property of another at any time.” I think you can articulate that walking into someone else’s garage and going through their property would fit.

Another possible criminal violation would be that of trespassing. Again under city ordinance you could apply the portion where it states, “it would be unlawful to enter or secretly remain in any building, occupied structure, or any separately secured or occupied portion thereof.”

I can see how someone would think it wasn’t a big deal because nothing was broken or missing. But it is a big deal if you think of the big picture. Maybe you aren’t missing items and your property isn’t damaged but how many others had their property damaged or stolen in your area that you don’t realize? Maybe you reporting the situation would be the puzzle piece law enforcement needed to connect a few dots and solve an ongoing case.

By you reporting situations like the one mentioned above, it can help narrow down time frames and also shed light onto additional neighborhoods or areas that need canvassed for surveillance footage or possible witnesses.

Another thing to mention would be reporting suspicious people or vehicles. Often, law enforcement officers find out later that someone saw or heard something they didn’t report because they didn’t think it was important at the time or they assumed someone else in the area would report it if they didn’t.

If you see someone or something that looks out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to call it in. Worst case scenario, the person or vehicle is contacted and the information is documented in case it would be relevant later on. You never know what officers may be working on and what puzzle piece they may be in search of to wrap up a case. Your information could be very important.

Each week, Sgt. Krisa Brass will answer questions submitted by Star-Herald readers. Send questions for consideration to youasked@starherald.com or by leaving your question at 308-632-9057.

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