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Noticing Forced Entry from a Patrol Vehicle

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  • Noticing Forced Entry from a Patrol Vehicle


    I noticed this area is kind of barren. So I figured I would start throwing up some threads on self-training. Something that Officers can scroll through and gain some tips on getting things done effectively, safely and professionally.

    I know a lot of users on forums come into whatever field the form they are visiting as a rookie. So why not give them some tips.

    I personally have been a F.T.O. *Field Training Officer* for 6 companies over the past 10 years and have a wealth of knowledge on the subject. So here goes.

    First topic.

    Noticing Forced Entry from a Patrol Vehicle

    This is a tricky subject. I've seen a lot of guys honestly believe you drive around, illuminate things with a light and expect to see doors kicked in, windows smashed, or other abrupt forms of entry.

    Truth is you will usually only see that type of entry 10% of the time.

    Why you may ask? Criminals are dumb. However they are not exactly stupid. Much like us they have a craft that they use to gain income. Much like us they tend to perfect that craft. 90% of criminals use a risk vs benefit scale on what they do, High benefit vs low risk equals easy payout. High risk vs low benefit equals dangerous payout. Simple stuff.

    So to catch a bad dude, you must think just like that bad dude. If you were said criminal, and you were lets say breaking into a home, business or summer rental where you've observed times when its generally empty. Would you take the rambo approach? Smash a window and jump in? Hoping no one saw or heard you, and hoping on the off-chance the cops aren't on their way as you look for your booty? Probably not. Its a high risk with a possibility of low payout. Or....would you slice a screen? use a tool to jimmy the lock? slide open a window and crawl in and close it behind you leaving generally no trace that you're in there or have been there until daylight hours? The odds of coming across that type of crime during patrol is much more likely, at least my 10 years tells me so.

    So you wonder. How do I exactly figure out if there has been forced entry, how do I know if a suspect is still inside the building?. How do I recognize the signs that tell me these things?

    Well training over 50 officers by hand in the past ten years I can tell you these things. I will not charge you, I will not make you take some course that a company requires you pay for before you get hired on. I will just tell you because its knowledge we ALL should have, whether were Armed, Unarmed, LP, Lot security or a mall cop. We should just know..

    First thing you need to know is General Common Sense.

    If something looks not right, or different. Odds are it is. Example. You've been patrolling the same community for 3 months. Lets say its summer homes that are un-occupied in the off season. On your current patrol you see a garden gnome that has stood strong in the lawn for the last 3 months but tonight it is laying down staring at the stars. That right there should be a HUGE red flag to you. Why? Something in the general occurrence of things has changed. Something is different.

    Now you may think "A kid knocked it over, maybe it was a dog meh". Chances are that could be the case. However if you think that way, you may be getting called into your CO's office on your next shift and having to explain why you drove right by a place that was being burglarized and you did nothing about it. On the other hand it takes 2 minutes to stop your vehicle, exit, search the perimeter of the property and look for more signs. Then you may be getting a pat on the back from your CO for simply noticing there was a break in before weather, outside sources and employees mess up a crime scene, you may be able to get the Police involved so they catch the guy before he gets away. This makes your boss happy, it makes the client happy and it makes your company look good!.

    Next you need to focus on Extreme Attention to Detail

    Our general function is to observe. We are the eyes ears and with some companies hands and feet of our clients. Just driving by a complex, home or business and shining a light on it is not good enough. Something as simple as a shadow inside could signal there is a very big problem, Something as simple as a torn screen or muddy footprint inside a building that gets cleaned nightly could be the difference between your client losing thousands or worse getting surprised by whoever is committing the crime and harming you. Heres a few key things that should set off your internal danger or crime alarms.

    Torn screens
    Tool marks on doors
    Fogged windows *if its cold out*
    Blinds that are not fully closed *few slats are broken, snapped off or slightly more open than others*
    Disturbances in the ground *footprints in mud, snow*
    Tire marks that seem fresh.
    Shadows that seem to move in buildings.
    Noises that seem unnatural *breaking glass, things falling over, breathing, voices, shoes squeaking on tile*.

    All of these things point to someone is there or has been recently, you should investigate. Again it may be nothing but you don't want to be left holding the ball if it was something.

    Also Gut Instinct

    If your gut is telling you something. Its wise to listen to it. Its usually right. If something tells you something is suspicious, or you get a bad feeling. It probably is and your feelings are warranted. The saying "Follow your gut" didn't come from folklore , remember that. If you feel something is going south quickly, be prepared for it. Odds are your night or day is about to get interesting faster than your expecting.

    We may have times where we just want to complete our patrol our tour, get back to the office, maybe were cold or bored. However your Patience is possibly one of the most important skills you can have while looking for problems on patrol. I've seen guys say "oh were here every night, nothings going to happen let go". Minutes later something did happen, we were only there to handle it because I personally had the patience to wait and check a little further. Sure you could drive by, shine a light and assume everything is okay. That's an assumption and they are usually wrong. Or you could pull up, shine your light, check every corner, drive around the back and KNOW nothing is going on. Remember the saying about assuming "Assuming makes an ass out of you and me" . If you assume, you miss details. So be patient , be diligent and get the job done.


    I cannot stress this one enough. Numerous times I've been on the job and had officers chatting, laughing loudly, cracking jokes, slamming car doors, tripping over their own feet........I cant tell you how BAD that is when your on patrol. Excessive noise alerts everything to your presence!. If someone is burglarizing your contract and they hear you coming from a mile away.....when you get there they wont be. All you will have is a LOT of paperwork and little evidence. However if you use stealth, you will hear them, not vise versa and in any situation, being the ambusher is a billion times better than being the ambushed. I've found assaults where the perps were assaulting the vic because they had no idea I was coming. I've stopped a rape because he was being quite loud and I wasn't. Stay quiet. Do your job, be sneaky and your presence will go unnoticed. Act unprofessional and make a butt-ton of noise. You're in for a bad night.

    Generally what you need to notice Forced Entry, Burglaries and the such, or even assault in closed up buildings or sites...boils down to how much you want to put into it. If you take your job 100% seriously and give 100% all the time. You'll notice the small things. You'll accomplish the task. If you just breeze though. You'll end up missing things, could get fired. Could get dead.

    Use your head, use all of your senses and if anything looks wrong, investigate it. You should do fine :-)

    Hope this helps someone out :-)
    Last edited by LtStretch; 03-10-2014, 07:34 PM.

  • #2
    Detecting car prowls

    Good stuff. I highly recommend the "double back" patrol technique - on our site they deliberately watch the guard on patrol. As soon as he passes by, they have a rough idea of how much time they have until he returns. Coming back to the same area a few minutes later or having the other guard (if you have one) come through from a different direction helps.

    Professional thieves are hard to detect. Punched locks are not easy to see in poor lighting - you really have to be looking for them. If they use a slim jim on the car door there may be no obvious visible marks. You have to look for other signs, such as the door being ajar, a dome light on, glove box open with items strewn about, etc. We also look for items moved in the carport.

    Finally, if you're allowed to go off site, get to know the streets around your facility. One year it became obvious to us the crooks were parking across the street in a residential area and coming in on foot to avoid the cameras and the patrol guard. (After a certain hour we pretty much knew which vehicles were "normal" and scrutinized those we didn't recognize.) We started driving on the streets nearby, so we could recognize the cars that parked on those streets every night as opposed to "new" vehicles, whose plates we'd jot down just in case.

    Nobody complained (the neighbors probably appreciated the free patrol), and our car prowl rate went down 45%.


    • #3

      I worked at a public library for a few months. Had a couple hundred busts in those months because I live by the saying "random is never detectable" . I would sweep the same areas over and over, go to another, then swap back and forth, never once did a "patrol" in any form of uniformity. Reason being is people will wait for you to shove off, then do what their gonna do, and expect you to not be back for X amount of time. Really screws up their day when 25 seconds after they just saw you you return.

      Ended up quitting that job after the company I worked for send out a mandatory patrol schedule. They wanted us here at X time, and there at X time. Within a week all the work I had done was destroyed and the crime rate was back to normal.

      Heck I'm even known to do a 3 mile patrol route that is done by car *inside a loopy community* on foot. They're expecting a marked unit and instead they get me crawling through alleys and bushes on foot. Always catch them off guard that way.


      • #4
        Good stuff and a very useful read even if this is a familiar topic to the reader already.


        • #5
          Yeah, sometimes we need to be reminded of the basics of what we do. Great piece and thanks for hitting on the simple things. We like to take a bike with us when we have to patrol a property that is large. Its also a good practice to change vehicles when there is an extra one available. We like to get to know the neighbors of the properties that we are monitoring. It always helps to exchange cards and phone numbers incase they see something that you miss, or you see something happen on their property.




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