Thursday, February 12, 2004
What Would You Do: Witnessing A Crime
It can literally make or break a police investigation. You see a crime... Everything unfolds right in front of you. Now, with so much happening so fast, can you give an accurate description of the suspect? Here's 7's Charles Perez with what you should do to be a good witness.
Or maybe you're in a restaurant when the cashier is robbed.
What could you tell the police about these two cases?
Lt. Bill Bamford of the Davie Police Department says, "If we don't have a good witness, especially an eye witness, then a crime would never be solved."
"Even little bits of information. Bits of information from ten people makes a whole pie."
But do you know how to be a good witness?
Most people complain the crime happened too fast.
"Take a snapshot of the person."
"In your mind?"
"In your mind. How tall? Male or female? The race? What color hair? Do you remember their eyes? How about their eyebrows? Their nose?"
Look for jewelry ... what shoes they were wearing ... tattoos.
"You may not be able to say what the tattoo was, but it you say a guy had a tattoo on the forearm, at least it gives us a start."
Any clue can help.
Even if the robber pulls out a gun, try to remember the type of firearm.
"Encapsulate something. Take a snapshot of something."
Something you can tell police.
Sure it's all great in theory. But how good of a witness would you really be. Without knowing it ... my producer put me to the test.
"Hey, My Purse."
"Oh, did he take your purse?"
"Can you describe that guy? The guy who just walked by? Actually, that was very good. I only saw him from the back, but I would say dark hair… Probably about 40-years old. A little chunky around the center ... he was wearing a taupe kind of color, tan kind of color top. Short sleeves, dark pants..."
So how did I do?
"This is the guy?"
"This is him. You didn't change your shirt."
I got the shirt color wrong ... but police say, all in all... they would know who to look for.
"You got a couple of things wrong, but you got enough right to give us a start."
OK ... so now it's your turn. What kind of witness will you be?
Here's one of our photographers pretending to steel something from a store: If he were a real robber how would you describe him?
Take your snapshot:
If you said a white male with black hair about six two with a heavy build you are right on target.
If you also noticed he was wearing: A black T-shirt ... denim shorts and black & gray tennis shoes ... you are a good witness.
Add to that tattoos on his right arm and a goatee you are an excellent witness ... And that's important.
"I certainly hope that if you're a victim or I'm a victim, someone will take the time and say I saw something."
Next week, what do you do if your car catches on fire?
Charles will have the tips next Thursday night.
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