Thursday, September 27, 2007

Grand Theft Auto

Last week, one of the Growler's neighbors in the 1300 block of Princess Street discovered his automobile had been stolen. It was parked on the street directly in front of his home and disappeared late Thursday night, September 20 or early Friday, September 21.

While the stolen car was ultimately recovered in Maryland, the homeowner anticipated he would see the story pop up in the Daily Crime Report on Alexandria's E-news service.

One after another, the days passed with nary a mention of the theft. The Daily Crime Report issued at mid-afternoon on Friday, September 21 reported only one auto theft from Canterbury Lane. There was nothing about Princess Street in Monday's E-news report, which reported a stolen car on Kenmore Avenue on the same night the Princess Street car was stolen. Monday's release also included information on a stolen car chase and arrest in Del Ray on Sunday, which occurred just 24 hours before the crime report was issued.

There was nothing about the Princess Street theft in Tuesday's E-news report. And nothing in Wednesday's E-news report.

Interestingly, the Growler noticed at the bottom of Tuesday's E-news report a new disclaimer in big bold print:

This report describes some of the most serious or otherwise noteworthy incidents since the last report. It does not encompass all of the reported crimes that may have occurred in the city.
Now most readers familiar with the Daily Crime Report are aware that the police don't report misdemeanor offenses like drug dealing and public drunkenness on E-news. Typically the reports feature\s more serious crimes like homicides, assaults, rapes, robberies, burglaries and peeping Tom incidents.

But auto theft is routinely reported as well. Sometimes these thefts constitute the only crime news on a slow day in the City.

So why was this incident omitted from E-news? What is the City's definition of "serious or otherwise noteworthy incidents" if not most or all felonies? Why include some auto thefts in the report and not others?

And here's an alarming postcript: The same resident who reported the stolen car returned home on Monday evening at 8 p.m. and found three police cruisers surrounding his neighbor's house. Apparently there had been an attempted break-in. The security alarm was going off and one of the back windows was askew.