Sometimes people take the law into their own hands but that is something that law enforcement officers and emergency dispatchers never encourage.
For one 911 dispatcher in Seattle, discouraging a family from trying to apprehend a car full of suspected thieves became the focus of a recent call. Thieves smashed the family’s car window as it sat parked in an area in Woodland Park and stole a purse that was sitting inside. Members of the family heard the car window break and glass shards hitting the ground and looked to see what was happening. They looked just in time to see the thieves taking the purse out of the car and jumping into their own vehicle before driving away.
One of the family members called 911 and the dispatcher calmly asked the required questions in order to garner as much information about the situation as possible. The dispatcher was told that the purse had a cell phone in it with a “Find my iPhone” app on it. The dispatcher was told that the family was using the app to pursue the suspects in an attempt to get the purse back and bring the culprits to justice. The caller said that the family was in their car “following the people around” and asked the dispatcher if a police officer could be sent for assistance.
The dispatcher, who requested that his name not be revealed for privacy, says that he immediately told the caller to pull the vehicle over to the side of the road and stop following the suspects. The dispatcher expressed to the caller how dangerous it was to follow the suspects because they don’t know if they have weapons with them in their vehicle.
The driver reluctantly pulled over and police eventually located and arrested the suspects.
The 911 dispatcher was the same one who took a call from an individual earlier in the year who was shot and killed trying to apprehend a suspect who had stolen his cell phone and says that because of that incident he knows firsthand the danger of citizens taking the law into their own hands.