Petaluma police have introduced two new crime-fighting techniques, including a tip hotline and online crime reporting.
The department is now taking online crime reports for minor thefts, fraud, identity theft, lost property, harassing phone calls or vandalism cases.
After some basic questions, residents will be able to fill out a report, submit it, receive a case number and be able to print a copy.
The website reminds readers that all cases will be reviewed and that falsely reporting a crime is a misdemeanor.
The online system will reduce staff processing time and allow for quicker analysis of crime trends in the city, Lt. Tim Lyons said.
Police urge residents to report all crimes. Lyons said often police will recover stolen property and are unable to return it to the owners because it hasn't been reported.
Extra patrols will also be focused on areas where trends are identified through online reporting.
Police have also started a confidential tip line, via phone or online. Both services are available under “crime prevention” on the department's website.
Residents can leave a message at 707-781-1200 or email a tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lyons said in-progress crimes or other emergencies still should be reported using 911 or the regular non-emergency phone line.
The Crime Tips line should be used to report suspicious activity or ongoing criminal activity.
Police anticipate information about ongoing drug sales or use, gang activity, tips about wanted people, suspected habitual drunken drivers and tips about property crimes.
Callers are encouraged to leave their name and contact information so an officer can gather further information or clarify the details, but callers can remain anonymous.
Lyons said the department “will hold the identity of the caller in the strictest confidence.”
Callers or emailers should leave specific details, such as license plate numbers, dates and times of the activity and names or descriptions of the suspects.
As always, Lyons said, emergency calls should still be made to 911.