The Durham Police Department has formed a robbery task force to fight a spike in reported robberies, which have jumped by more than 13 percent in 2016 compared to the first 11 months of 2015.
Task force investigators will focus primarily on robberies of businesses and persons involving dangerous weapons. The task force has one sergeant, one corporal and six investigators. It will work with investigators from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and investigators from other area jurisdictions. A DPD crime analyst will also work with the team to help identify trends.
“We have seasoned investigators handling these types of cases. We will be focused on that particular crime and with everything being funneled through us, it will be easier to pick up on trends and likely suspects,” said Sgt. H.J. Burwell, supervisor of the task force.
Burwell said robberies tend to be either crimes of opportunity or “organized groups who aim to commit as many robberies as they can, looking for easy money.”
Anyone with information about any armed robberies is asked to contact Burwell at 919-560-4440, ext. 29240 or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.
The Durham Police Department offers these robbery safety tips:
▪ If you think you are being followed, pull into a well-lit place and call 911.
▪ Don’t flash large sums of cash, jewelry or other expensive items. They attract unwanted attention and may give a potential robber his target.
▪ Travel in groups if possible. Avoid isolated areas, short cuts and deserted parking lots.
▪ If you have to use isolated areas, such as when you leave work late, have someonewalk with you to your car.
▪ If you see someone suspicious, walk away. Go to an area where there are other people,bright lights or a telephone.
▪ If You Are Confronted· Don't try to be a hero. It's better to lose your money than your life.
▪ Do not take any action that will jeopardize your personal safety or the safety of others.
▪ Try to remain calm.
▪ Consider all firearms to be loaded.
▪ Follow all directions given by robber.
▪ Avoid any action that might excite the robber or cause him/her to be violent. You dohave a right to defend yourself from a robber(s) if you are physically attacked. However,we suggest that you avoid a physical confrontation if at all possible unless there is noother option available.
▪ Be alert to the direction and manner of escape.
▪ Get as much information as possible about the suspect(s) and any vehicle involved,including the plate number if at all possible.
After an Armed Robbery
▪ Call 911 as soon as possible after the robbery. Provide the dispatcher with as muchinformation as possible and stay on the phone until instructed to hang up. You’ll beasked to provide the five “Ws” – who, what, when, where and weapon.
▪ Limit access to the area where the crime occurred in case evidence such asfingerprints might be obtained.
▪ As soon as possible after calling the police, write down a description of the robber(s),weapons used and the means of escape.
▪ Ask any witness to wait until the police arrive so they may give a description of therobber(s). If they can't stay, get their names, phone numbers and addresses.
▪ Do not discuss the details of the robbery with witnesses or friends as this could taintthe description.
Have regular safety meetings to develop and discuss your “plan.” Some of the elements of a good plan include:
▪ Employee demeanor during a robbery (do not resist)
▪ How to notify the police
▪ An escape route
▪ How to obtain a suspect description
▪ How to obtain a vehicle description and license plate number
▪ Have prearranged signals between employees
▪ How to activate alarms
▪ When not to activate an alarm
▪ Mentally review as often as possible the actions you must perform if confronted with an emergency. The plan should become "second nature" to you.
▪ Always keep the inside of your business well lighted, especially the entrances and exits.
▪ The cash register should be visible from outside the store. A clear view to the register from the street or parking lot assists police officers to see inside as they patrol the area.
▪ Mark the edge of the main doorway with measuring tape. This will help in obtaining amore accurate height of the robber.
▪ Keep cash at a minimum, and post notices in the doorway of this fact.
▪ Periodically test video surveillance equipment to verify it is in proper working order.
▪ Consider the installation of video cameras or alarm systems.