For my brothers and sisters working as security guards, this happens a lot: a “be on the lookout” is put out over the walkie-talkie or you get a phone call from your supervisor and you get a description of the person or the vehicle, but the thing you want to keep in mind is frequently those descriptions are a little bit off.
Let me give you an example from real life.
There was a time when I was working and I had access to remote cameras. Part of my job was to use those cameras for discovering crime. I was monitoring the police radio and a call went out that one of those dollar type stores was robbed at knife point.
Those stores are getting stolen from constantly, all day, every day. But, this call went out as a robbery.
The reason was, three people had tried to take some merchandise. The clerk at the store confronted them and one of the people pulled a knife and said, “We’re leaving” or words to that affect. Then they took the merchandise and left.
The employee, of course, immediately called the police and they put out a description on the radio.
Here’s the BOLO that went out:
It was three people. One was a man dressed like a woman who had pulled a knife on the clerk. They got into a Nissan Ultama Maximum with dealer tags on it.
There’s no such thing as a Nissan Ultama Maximum.
And remember, “dealer tags” are those metal license plates dealers put on cars when you’re taking a test drive.
That’s the description we had.
Pretty soon afterwards one of the officers on the precinct said he knew who the suspect was. The officer said the man dressed as a woman is actually a prostitute. He gave the suspect’s name so the other officers would know who they’re looking for.
As soon as I hear this, I figure, heck, I know where the hooker strolls are so I start looking around on the different area cameras. After checking out two or three corners and coming up blank, I figured it was unlikely I would find the suspect.
If you think about it, the suspect just got paid. He just got a payday from stealing things. When you get paid, you don’t rush off and go to work. And, of course, neither did this guy. That’s why I didn’t find him on the prostitution corners.
I started looking other places, almost not even for the suspects, and at one typical dope lot where people sit around, drinking, selling and smoking dope all day, I saw a car pull up.
It was a white Nissan Maxima. And while it didn’t have a “dealer tag” on it, it did have a paper “temporary tag” (the kind that’s issued when you first buy a car so you can drive it for thirty days).
Is this the suspect?
I really couldn’t tell if these were the suspects or not.
I didn’t see a man wearing a dress, that’s for sure, but the description was close to the BOLO.
It was sort of in the vicinity, around illegal activity and it was a Nissan.
So, I called the police department radio room, and told them what I had.
I had this Nissan Maxima. It had a temporary tag. I gave them the tag number. I told them there were at least two people with the vehicle and there might be a third person in the backseat.
I said, “It’s not anything I’m concerned about, but if you guys want it, there it is”.
I hung up and within a few minutes, three police cruisers arrive.
At this point, I’m really hoping I didn’t send the police on a wild goose chase and had made the right call on this. Otherwise, it’s just super awkward and uncomfortable. I mean, this is a dope spot. There are drug sales all day long so everybody there knows the cops and the cops know all those people. But, still… I didn’t want to cause problems if I was wrong!
It’s not offensive that the police would show up. But three cruisers at the same time conducting a felony stop rather than just driving by is a little bit unusual there.
It was only a matter of moments before the cops brought the driver and the passenger back to the car. Then, out of the back seat they pulled a man in a dress!
Right away, I knew I had the right car and the police were very quickly able to make an arrest on this armed robber.
Here’s What Happened
There’s nothing special about what I did.
If I hadn’t made the call, this case would have been passed to a police detective, they would’ve made the case differently using witness statements. They wouldn’t have had the physical evidence from the theft or the knife. But they could have made an arrest if they wanted to.
However, with my call, the police had the stolen merchandise and the weapon. That kind of nice and makes for a very solid case.
Plus, everybody goes to jail right on the spot. That’s a good precedent to set so they think twice the next time they steal… and there will be a next time.
The point is, if I had dismissed the suspects because they didn’t “exactly” match the BOLO, there wouldn’t have been the arrests.
So when you see something suspicious, it’s not necessarily “does this match exactly”, but more of a who-does-this-remind-me-of type of thing.
Notice I’m not saying anything about getting involved yourself!
Yes, I have written the book called, How To Make a Citizen’s Arrest, and there are circumstances where you may feel compelled to do that and, while in this case I was off-site, even if I had been sitting across the street, I would never ever have tried to make a citizen’s arrest under those conditions!
Forget about the danger for a moment. It’s just so completely unnecessary to make a citizen’s arrest! Just pull out your phone and you call the cops. It’s that easy!
Committed to your success and safety,
Larry Kaye, P.I.
P.S. – And, of course, don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…