January 1, 2012

2011 Online Crime Reporting Overview

In 2009 the Santa Cruz Police Department launched an online crime reporting feature - a way our community could more conveniently report certain crimes. Over the last few years the program has grown in popularity, both increasing the convenience for residents (as they no longer need to wait for an officer to respond to their report or can do it 24 hours/day without issue) and saved costs for the agency in police response. The online system, which can be seen here, allows residents to make a report in English or Spanish for the following crime types (when no suspect information is known):
  • Lost Property
  • Hit and Run
  • Theft
  • Vehicle Burglary or Tampering
  • Vandalism
  • Identity Theft
  • Harassing Phone Calls
All of the reports are approved and analyzed by police staff, just like a report written by an officer.

In 2011, over 1,850 reports were filed this way - most commonly for theft, vehicle burglary and minor vandalism. This equates to approximately 15% of all crime reports.

It is estimated that these reports saved the department approximately $75,000 in staff costs (and a few thousand hours of saved time) for officers that would have traveled to the scene for the report or taken time to input the information that residents are inputting. This time can now be dedicated to investigation of these crimes and more physical presence of the officers on the street.

Lastly, it's important to note that some of these crimes wouldn't have been reported at all if it weren't for the online system. Some residents have told us that the convenience of the system encouraged them to report - providing key data for crime analysis to help guide where the department's resources are allocated.