Nonetheless, in dealing with the situation I learned about a valuable and convenient tool offered by the Denver Police Department: Report a Crime Online.
I think there are two main reasons why people don’t make police reports when something bad happens. Firstly, it can be a burden to call the police, wait for a patrol car to arrive, and then fill out the paperwork in an interview-like manner. Commonly, this is all done sitting in the hot sun or in a freezing blizzard, while waiting in the parking lot of a closed down Blockbuster or Jack-in-the-Box. Secondly, I think many people underestimate how important a police report is, especially if you later need to make an insurance claim or pursue legal action.
Yesterday, in looking for the Denver Police Department’s non-emergency phone number, I came across the Report a Crime Online program. Generally speaking, instead of calling a police unit to respond in person, you can now go online and fill out a loss or accident report on your own. You submit the report and receive a temporary case number, and, after the report is reviewed and approved, it is officially filed and a formal case number is assigned. Everything is emailed to you almost instantly.
This is a brilliant system. It allows you the time and ability to make the report at your convenience, once you have the knowledge and wherewithal to know the extent of your damages or loss. Additionally, it does not require a police officer, who likely has other duties to perform (and would prefer to be doing those other duties) to make a personal visit to witness a broken car window.
As far as the importance of filing a report, the system makes it so easy to file a report that there is no good reason not to do it. I have spoken to many people who didn’t think they need a police report, because “the damage didn’t look that bad.” But, a few weeks down the line, the quote comes back from the body shop and an insurance claim is the only way to afford the repairs. Without a police report, it makes it much more difficult to make an insurance claim (and there may be additional fees too), and a police report can prove to be invaluable in any legal action.
I am not suggesting that if you get involved in a traffic accident, you should necessarily exchange info, proceed home, and file the report online (even though it is possible). There are still many situations where calling the police and having a patrol car arrive on-scene is the best, if not only, way to proceed and protect your interests. But, in light of the increasing and ever-present instances of petty theft and vandalism, Report a Crime Online is a great and stress-reducing system that takes a little bit of the sting out of the process.