Reporting a robbery: what you should know
Whether you have fallen victim to a robbery, or you have witnessed one, there is a specific procedure to follow to ensure that the cops get on the case. The sooner you act, the better. Like most crimes, robbery investigations have a golden hour.
If you call the cops immediately, they have more of a chance of finding hot clues, so that they can pursue the criminals; and in some instances, find and recover the stolen goods.
It is free to report a crime, and anyone can do it.
The first step after being robbed is to stay calm. You have been through a traumatic event. Having one’s property stolen is a personal violation and can be devastating.
Take a second to breathe deeply and find your bearings.
Keeping a level head is essential. You need to be able to relay the events of the robbery with as much detail as you can in a clear, succinct way. The more information you can give the cops, the better.
Check out your surroundings. What time is it? Did you see what the robber was wearing? Did the robber speak to you, and what did the robber’s voice sound like?
If you can write down everything on the spot, do so. Events and details start to fade from our minds fairly quickly, especially when we have been traumatised.
Of course, this isn’t to put pressure on you, but the more accurate the information, especially the description of the robber, the better the chances of solving the crime.
Make contact with the authorities
To report a crime you can call the cops to your location, or you can go to the station. In South Africa, you can contact the police by dialling 10111, and the operator will transfer your call to the nearest station.
Either way, be prepared to wait for some time. Local police stations are inundated with cases. That doesn’t mean that your case isn’t important; the workload versus the number of cops on duty is known to be imbalanced.
An easy way to get the authorities to the scene is to have the iER app installed on your mobile device.
The iER app is a free emergency application. You can download it onto any smart device. Having the app at your fingertips helps give you peace of mind. The app offers users a no-cost solution to report emergencies, at the click of a button.
The App is a panic button! It can be used in a variety of situations – robberies, violent crimes and even accidents and medical emergencies. It ensures that the proper response team gets sent to the scene. iER is a one-click solution.
There is no membership fee for the application, although data or a Wi-Fi connection is required for use by anyone who has the App, which can be downloaded from all app stores.
Open a case and explain the robbery!
An officer will take your statement at the station or at the scene. Bear in mind that this officer may not be the one who will handle your case.
The detectives who interview you may also not be the ones who will handle your case. Be prepared to speak to several people, and you may have to repeat the details of the event.
You will be asked to either dictate or write down your experience on a page, known as an affidavit given to you at the police station.
The officer may ask you a few questions. You are allowed request a copy of the affidavit for your own, personal record. This document serves as evidence that there has been a crime and that you have reported it to the police. You can use it to claim from your various insurance providers, if applicable.
The police station will now open a docket for your case.
A docket is a folder. Your particular docket will be allocated a CAS number. The police officer will register the case in the SAPS Crime Administration System (CAS) at the police station. Your CAS number will be sent to you via SMS. You need to keep it as a reference for future enquiries regarding the criminal case. This is your case number and will be used to track and mark everything about your case, iER reported in the article, ‘When should you open a case with the police?’.
The article continues: Your docket will be allocated to an investigating officer the next working day. This means that, if you open a case over a weekend, you will be allocated your investigating officer that following Monday.
Your case will receive immediate attention, whether it is reported during the week, weekend or after hours before it is allocated to the investigating officer.
You will be notified of your case number as soon as the system has created it.
Once the investigation is officially underway, you will only hear from the investigating officers once there have been some leads. Leads are new information, which looks promising in the pursuit of finding the proper criminals. Not all leads are accurate though, so be patient.
You may be called in to give additional information as time progresses. Officers may think of new questions or find inconsistencies in your story, or the stories of suspects and witnesses. Be sure to co-operate fully and honestly. Sometimes you may even be called in to identify the suspects who committed the robbery. These suspects will be interrogated, based mostly on your given description, and their whereabouts and alibis at and around the time of the robbery.
Once a suspect has been arrested, and the witness’s statement/s obtained, the case is ready to go to court.