Fort Hood Sentinel
Standing watch over Fort Hood since 1942
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014  02:53:48 AM

DES breaks up crime patterns

Email   Print   Share By Heather Graham, Sentinel News Editor
April 15, 2010 | News
Property crimes on the installation are nothing new but with available technology and resources, law enforcement officers with Fort Hood’s Directorate of Emergency Services are able to break up crime epidemics.

Chief investigator Mark Knox said detectives keep their eyes out for epidemics and patterns in crimes so they can be stopped and property can be recovered quickly.

Investigators watch police blotters daily looking for patterns of epidemic crimes. Once an epidemic is detected, all available manpower is applied and evidence is processed as it comes into DES.

“We’ve been pretty successful with breaking up crime patterns,” Knox said.

Although crimes against persons remain the No. 1 priority, property crimes such as thefts and burglary are taken seriously, as evidenced by the disruption of several burglary rings on post.

Late last year and into the beginning of this year, a Soldier who was being chaptered out of the Army was charged with 12 counts of house break-ins for stealing from his fellow Soldiers who had recently returned from deployment and were on block leave.

“He was looking for rooms that weren’t dead bolted,” Knox said. The value of property exceeded $100,000.

Around the same time, Soldiers in another barracks building were also experiencing thefts. In the middle of the night, three males were observed in an unsecured room belonging to Soldiers who were on leave at the time. Two Soldiers and one civilian were apprehended and charged with the break-ins.

Late last fall, one of the housing villages suffered a rash of thefts from unsecured vehicles. Global positioning systems, cell phones, purses and other easy to snatch items were taken, resulting in hundreds of cases over 90 days.

Many of these crimes could have been prevented.

Fort Hood DES offers a house watch service on post, Knox said. Residents simply call DES and let them know when they will be away and officers will drive by the post residence three times a day to check on things.

For many property crimes, securing items is a deterrent.

“The biggest problem is our folks just don’t lock their stuff up,” Knox said.

Unattended, unsecured valuables are easy targets. Dead bolt rooms and place electronics and valuable out of sight when left in vehicles. Those apt to commit crimes will look for easy marks, detectives said.

“If you provide an atmosphere conducive to criminal activities that is where they will go,” Knox said.

As a safeguard, detectives encourage record-keeping on all valuables. A listing of the description, make, model and serial number of high-value property helps law enforcement recover and return stolen property. “This helps solve crimes,” Knox said.

Anyone can be a potential victim, so being prepared is a best practice, especially since perpetrators can be anyone with criminal inclinations.

Family members and Soldiers can be victims and perpetrators. Most of the crimes on the installation are committed by personnel authorized to access post, Knox said.

Knox said there are two types of criminals, those who steal whatever is available and those seeking specific items. Many of the perpetrators have drug issues and will steal whatever they can. Some thieves have a shopping list and seek specific items, most of which have been sold before the criminal steals them.

Many perpetrators are juveniles.

“Property crimes spike when school gets out,” Knox said.

The worst situation Knox has seen in his eight years here was the 53 burglaries committed by juveniles in 2004.

Two years ago, two juveniles were apprehended and charged with 47 house break-ins.

Those who commit crimes at Fort Hood beware: The installation has the manpower, resources and skill to apprehend, and the wherewithal to prosecute.

Fort Hood has more law enforcement officers per capita than Killeen, so the likelihood of getting caught for criminal acts is high, Knox added.

Civilians who commit crimes on the installation are tried in federal court in Waco. Military members face UCMJ action. Fort Hood has two assistant U.S. attorneys to handle crime cases on the installation.

“We have the most competent, advanced investigative division in the Department of Defense,” Chuck Medley, director, DES, said.

At Fort Hood, detectives benefit from a lab that can conduct forensics analysis, screen small amounts of DNA and perform acid tests.

“It’s a fascinating time to be in my business,” Knox said.
 
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