DC Police: When Video of the Bad Guy Isn't Enough
D.C. police gadly John Aravosis has heard of all too many cases like this: A house in the District is burglarized, the police know who the bad guy is, yet somehow the system concludes that nothing can be done.
But as common as this scenario may be, the experience a Kalorama woman is nonetheless startling, and if Mayor Adrian Fenty and new Police Chief Cathy Lanier are serious about changing the way policing is done in Washington, this is the perfect case on which to base some new ways of doing business:
Not only do the police reportedly have the perpetrator on video tape, they have his signature and name, all obtained while the burglar was getting rid of the stolen goods at a pawn shop. "It's abominable," says Aravosis. See for yourself: First, an email from the victim to Metropolitan Police , describing what happened (I've removed street addresses and some names)...
To: [Third District Police Commander] Mccoy, Larry (MPD)
Subject: RE: Burglary in our neighborhood and NO arrest
We got a call from Detective Covington last evening and he informed us that NO arrest would take place of Mr. J. (residing across the street with our neighbor) in the burglary of jewelry from our home because the pawn shop owner has refused to identify him from a group of photographs that he was shown. Detective Covington says this is the end of it and there is nothing further to be done. (This is in spite of the fact that Mr. J was supposed to be on video tape pawning the jewelry and they supposedly according to Detective Covington has his signature on the pawning documents--is it any wonder that it would not be in the best interests of the pawn shop owner to identify him).
Mr. Covington also reported the good news that they have recovered the gold and diamond ring that my husband's father left to him 42 years ago because the pawn shop owner suddenly remembered that it was in his possession because he had had it sent out for cleaning and had forgotten about it! The other ring, he claims, was melted
down for its gold content. Mr. Covington will be trying to determine today when he can return this ring. He has also informed us that we will be liable for the $2,000 that the pawn shop owner gave Mr. J. for the ring!
This is probably the end of the road for us in this matter. The good news is that one of the rings will probably be returned. The bad news is that there is a predator in the neighborhood whose car is parked right outside our front door as I write this. Although we realize that there is a limit to what law enforcement can do in matters such as this, this has left a really bad taste for us.
We wish to thank all of you for your support and assistance in this matter and wish it could have had a better closure for us all.
The victim got a quick reply from Police Lt. Michael Farish:
I did some checking this morning and I would like to clarify some issues you raised. The first being any expense to you and your husband. That information is inaccurate. There are certain parameters that pawn shops must operate under, and since the shop paid for stolen merchandise they are required to absorb the cost of what they paid the subject who pawned the ring. Once you receive the property release from Detective Covington you will be able to retrieve the ring from our agency.
Detective Covington informed you regarding the US Attorney's Office declining to pursue this case. With the pawn shop not identifying the suspect in the photospread they are unwilling to go forward. You are probably very correct in your assumption that it is not in the pawn shop's best interest to make an identification, but at this juncture it is an issue we cannot resolve.
There seem to be several issues with the pawn shop regarding the way the items were received. These issues have been brought to the attention of Lt. Michael Pavlik. Lt. Pavlik oversees the MPD Pawn Unit, and he is going to have the issues addressed with Detective Looper of his staff, she assisted Detective Covington. I have included Lt. Pavlik and Det. Looper in this email so everyone is fully aware of the efforts being made.
If I may be of any further assistance to you please contact me. Thank you.
The good news: The D.C. police department seems to be all over this case, responding quickly and with a real sense of wanting to do the right thing.
The bad news: Prosecutors appear to be letting the case go because of a recalcitrant pawnshop owner--certainly an obstacle that is fairly easy to overcome, even if it would take a bit of work and pressure.
Let's see what happens. Updates are welcome from all parties involved.
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