Each month, Advocate Community Newspapers has lunch with members of the East Dallas Police Storefront (670-5514). The storefronts are best-known for their bicycle patrol officers and community policing emphasis. This month’s lunch was with Sr. Cpl. Rick Janich and Officer T.X. “Tri” Ngo at Arnold’s Bar-B-Que.

Advocate: Let’s talk about home burglaries this month. What tips do you have for neighborhood residents who find out that their home residents who find out that their home has been burglarized?

Rick: If you have been broken into, don’t go through your home, because you don’t know if the suspect is still there. So if something looks like it has happened, go to a neighbor’s house and call police, or wait in your car until we get there.

The worst thing you can do is disturb the crime scene. Most people’s first tendency is to go through the house, but all that does is destroy evidence.

Also, a lot of people have guns in their homes, so if you go in the house following a burglary, you may find yourself staring at your own gun. You’ve just turned an unarmed burglar into an armed one.

Advocate: How long does it usually take an officer to arrive for a burglary call? I suppose these calls aren’t the highest priority compared with shootings and such, are they?

Rick: A burglary in progress, as opposed to a regular burglary call, is handled with a higher priority.

Advocate: How do I know if my call is a “burglary in progress” if, as you’ve already suggested, that I don’t go into the house?

Rick: To be safe, it’s probably best to assume that someone is still in there and report it as a burglary in progress.

Advocate: What if I go into my home, and I start getting the feeling that someone is in the house? Or what if I see someone in the house?

Tri: If you’re afraid someone is in there, leave immediately. Go to the neighbor’s and call 911.

Advocate: What if I know no one is in the house following a burglary.

Rick: Then you sill call 911, and report it. Just try to keep yourself from touching things in the house, because that can really mess up the suspect’s fingerprints.

Advocate: How long does the average burglary last? I mean, how long is the burglar usually in the house?

Tri: Not very long. Maybe a couple of minutes, and that’s it. In a few instances, we’ve had burglars spend a lot of time in a house, take the time to pile stuff up in the house by the door. But most of the time, they kick the door in, grab the VCR and leave.

Advocate: What should I do, in the case you just mentioned, if I come out after lunch and find someone in my garage? Should I try to stop the guy? A lot of people talk pretty bravely about this type of situation, but I suppose that talk is cheap.

Rick: If somebody’s got a hold of your stuff, hey, to me, it’s just not worth it to try and stop them. Usually discretion is the better part of valor, so I’d probably let him have it. There’s not much that I have that is worth losing my life over.

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