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Queens Chronicle

Here’s how to describe a suspect to the police

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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:17 am, Thu Mar 21, 2013.

The 112th Precinct auxiliary officers have been distributing fliers warning the community about an increase in burglaries.

One important thing you can do is report something if you see it. Also, if you have any video equipment in your apartment buildings, stores, or homes, please make sure it is working. This past year the precinct was able to arrest burglars by using video images.

We have information that people saw strangers in a backyard and did not call 911. Instead they shared the information with each other. We must let the police know.

We can help protect our community. The 112th Precinct Community Council has block watchers. You can come to our meeting and become a block watcher.

And anyone who sees someone suspicious can call 911. But do not attempt to confront an individual or to interrupt a crime in progress, and don’t reveal your suspicions.

Here are further tips on what to do if you observe something that should be reported.

• Record as many details as possible.

• Notify the appropriate authorities as soon as possible.

• Be systematic. Look the person over from head to foot. Compare him or her with yourself (is he or she taller, heavier, older?)

• What about the person’s hair? Color? Length? Style? Facial hair?

• Any distinguishing marks, features?

• Eye color?

• Did you notice the person’s clothing?

Here is a good checklist to run down:

• Sex: male or female.

• Race: white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.

• Complexion: light, dark, ruddy, olive, sunburned, pale.

• Height: Try estimating in 2-inch blocks (for example, between 5 feet, 8 inches and 5 feet, 10 inches).

• Approximate age.

• Weight: estimating in blocks of 10 pounds.

Build: large, medium, small, stocky, fat or thin.

Hair: color, length, straight, curly, thick, balding or thin, sideburns.

Facial hair: clean-shaven, stubble, mustache, beard.

Distinguishing features on parts of body: tattoos, scars, etc.

Clothing: Look from head to toe — type, color, and style. Note any hat, eyeglasses, coat, shirt, pants, dress, skirt, shoes.

You should also try to notice the person’s method of travel — did he or she go into the subway, run down the street (which street), get into a car, bus, etc.?

Try to remember as much as possible and then as soon as possible write it down. Do not write it down in front of the person. Try to be as accurate as possible.

The New York City Police Foundation website (nycpolicefoundation.org) also has this list on how to describe a vehicle.

• License plate (most important), including its condition.

• Year, make, model and color.

• Body type (two-door, four-door, van, SUV, etc.)

• Passengers (number of people).

• Damage or anything unusual (logos, flags, etc.)

You would want to note the direction of travel: What street is the vehicle on, what cross street is it approaching?

To protect yourself at your residence, remember to:

• Close all doors and windows.

• Leave on indoor lights and a radio on a timer. And leave on outside lights.

• If you have an alarm, activiate it before going to sleep and when leaving.

Heidi Harrison Chain is president of the 112th Precinct Community Council.

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