Crime Victims Rights: Steps To Take If You’ve Been a Victim or Walk in on a Crime

  • If you experience a situation in life where your life or safety is threatened (or another’s life of safety is compromised) in any way, you need to report the situation to the police. The 911 calling system is available in most parts of the United States and can aid you with this task. In addition, these operators can be accessed for free from any pay phone. Often the enhanced 911 areas can pull up the caller’s name, address or location even if the caller can’t speak into the phone when they call. This allows them to send help your way even if you can’t speak.
  • Today’s modern cell phones are also set up with GPS triangulation systems that can help the authorities pinpoint the location of the phone in an emergency situation. This system is automatically activated when you call 911 on many newer phone models. When using your cell phone to dial 911 you will be given to the dispatch center of the closest area code to your location (or your phone’s location). To aid them in finding you, you can give them details to what you see around you.
  • If you ever come upon a house or business that has been broken into, do not enter the area. Instead, go to a safe place and call the police. The police will not allow anyone to enter until they have secured the area. If you do enter and then find it has been broken into, be sure not to disturb anything because the police will need to collect evidence form the area to help them capture the burglar. Be sure to work with the police to identify any items you have found missing or broken. This information can help them find fingerprints of the criminal. Also be sure to point out any items which are not yours because some criminals leave behind incriminating information (like clothing or identification). It is helpful to make a log of valuable items with serial numbers and photos. If there are any special engravings on the items, be sure you tell the cops.
  • If you walking into a robbery be sure to never resist the burglar. Remember, personal items can be replaced but your life cannot. Do what the attacker asks of you so he will leave and you will be safe.
  • Look at the attacker closely and note any physical characteristics so you can give this information to the police. Watch the thief make his escape and note if it was via foot or via car. Note the direction in which he ran or drove off and if there was anyone with him.  These details will help the police catch him more quickly. Remember any details about the car he drove off in or any bumper stickers it may have had. A license plate number is obviously the best information to gather but you may not have the opportunity to gather it. Don’t ever write your name or address on a set of keys because it will only give a thief a road map to your house. Keep only a small amount of cash in your wallet and keep your credit cards and other valuable in other areas of your purse. Think about getting a dummy wallet to hand over to a criminal if you are mugged. Sometimes not carrying a handbag is the best way to avoid muggings.
  • To help with the prosecution of a predator you may want to mark your items in advance. This will help you get them back if the criminal is caught. Often the unclaimed recovered items are auctioned off instead of being returned to you.
  • Even if you can’t provide many details about the criminal, be sure to call the police immediately after any type of crime situation occurs.