While it is an unfortunate fact, almost everyone will become a victim of a crime at some point in his or her life. Being victimized is stressful, and the daunting task of filing a police report can make things even more so. A little advanced preparation can make filing a police report a much easier process. Here are some strategies to help make the process easier. It is important to remember that filing a false police report is a crime.
Know Whom to Contact
A police report has to be filed in the jurisdiction in which the crime occurred. For most people this isn't an issue, as many people are victimized in or around their homes. If you are victimized while on vacation or even in another part of your own city, you must file the report where the crime occurred.
Know Your Facts
Before you file the report, take a few moments to collect your thoughts and gather any information that will be important to the police. It often helps to take a few minutes and write down exactly what happened so you can have a clear picture to report. If you are a victim of a theft, for instance, make a note of how the thieves may have entered, and try to have as much information about what was stolen as you can. The more information you have ahead of time, the more effective the police will be in helping you.
Know Your Contact Information
Gather any financial information, contact information and insurance information the police may need. If there were any witnesses to the crime, try to have contact information for them as well.
Know How to File the Report
Several law-enforcement agencies will allow the reporting of crime online. Look up the department where you have to file the report and see whether you can do that. If you prefer, you can always file a police report over the phone or in person at the department. If you file online or over the phone, an officer will likely come and meet you in person to examine the crime scene and finalize the report.
Read More: How to File a Police Report Without Proof
Know Your Case Number
After the report has been filed, make sure you get your case number. You will need this number to follow up on the investigation. You will also likely need to give the number to your insurance agency if you want to file a claim. Finally, the case number is necessary to request a copy of the report. While it is free to file a report, you will have to pay to get a copy.
Michael Scott is a freelance writer and professor of justice studies at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is a former prosecutor. Scott has a J.D. from Emory University and is a member of the Utah State Bar. He has been freelancing since June 2009, and his articles have been published on eHow.com and Travels.com.