Aug 28, 2010 9:12 PM by Matt Stafford

Waiting for a response

"It looks like an abandoned house doesn't it," Zelna Joseph says, examining what used to be her front door on Farnsworth Drive.

The welcome mat in front of a boarded door isn't exactly convincing, but Joseph says when she came home from work Friday evening she discovered that thieves took it literally.

"It's a really bad feeling to drive up to your house and your door is open," Joseph says.

She called the police, who she says told her not to touch anything until they arrive. She also called her insurance agent who stopped by to secure her door -- but had to wait.

"I couldn't let them do anything until the police came," says Joseph. She says that was four hours later.

According to police, it was about 3 hours and 20 minutes.

"Priority dictates what we do a lot of times," explains Lt. Brian Ritz with the Colorado Springs Police Department. "Safety and welfare of people are top priority and then it goes down from there."

Lt. Ritz says during that same timeframe Friday evening, Springs Police got 216 calls -- many of them high priority. He says that's about a quarter's worth of an average day's calls, all in about 3 hours.

"It does delay our response time to property type crimes," Lt. Ritz explains.

Lt. Ritz acknowledges Joseph's crime was down on the list.

Joseph says when officers finally arrived, they simply took a report and left. After some investigating of her own, Joseph thinks she found an overlooked a handprint on the wall her TV was taken from. It makes her wonder how much effort is being put into her case.

News First 5 asked Colorado Springs Police how burglaries like this one are being investigated.

"A property crime is investigated by the officer that responds to the initial call for service," Lt. Ritz. However, he says that without crime patterns and obvious leads, crimes like Joseph's are hard to solve, and getting harder.

Lt. Ritz says cuts and staffing changes are reducing the number of detectives handling property crimes to about a dozen for the entire department.

Next, instead of waiting, Joseph plans to take matters into her-own hands by investing in a security system. She wants to see the city take a similar proactive approach.

"If they aren't solving these crimes, then these crimes aren't being prevented," Joseph says.

But police maintain, they're being strategic -- providing help to those who need it most.


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