Ask a detective/undercover cop

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ace_of_something:
Snip

That's pretty interesting. Thanks for replying.

ace_of_something:
snip

All right, I have a few for you.

1)How often do people strip the serial numbers off things they've stolen, and how does this affect your investigation?

2)How often do you find stolen merchandise in a third parties hands (not the person who stole it, and not the owner's)? How do you decide whether or not to pursue charges against said person?

3)I don't know the specific laws out of your state, but here in NY certain things like water pipes and bongs are legal, as long as they are used/sold for "tobacco use only"? What is your opinion of people who work/provide services in these "gray" areas, where something is legal, but likely to be used for illegal purposes?

4)Semi-related, what is your opinion of pawn shops?

5)As a police officer, what is your opinion on changes in "social" (for lack of a better term) laws like gay marriage, or older laws like sodomy laws or prohibition? What is your opinion on the way these changes are enacted?

6)You mention categories of people who can refuse to testify against someone. What about Clergy? Are they also exempt (on religious grounds) or would they have to face charges if they refused to testify about what was said to them in confessionals?

7)How much rivalry is there between different levels of enforcement? Do the local cops really hate the state boys butting in, and does everyone really hate the feds taking over, or is that more "Hollywood" drama?

That ought to keep you busy for a bit. I'm sure I'll think up more later.

EDIT: I remembered another one.

8)When I worked (briefly) for Country Fair, we were told that uniformed officers were allowed free access to coffee and fountain drinks, and I have on more than one occasion seen officers take advantage of it. I thought regulations forbid officers from accepting "gifts" of any kind while on duty, and even off duty there were some restrictions. Is that just a myth, or is this somehow different?

Waif:
When it comes to under-cover sting operations, what rights do the detectives have in dealing with the subject of their operation? Like, what can they do and what can't they do? Rather I am thinking of how much they can monitor of the subject, where they can monitor the subject, and with what methods. I remember hearing somewhere that you can record anyone's phone/in your immediate vicinity conversation as long as one person who is being recorded knows about it. Though I have always doubted this ever since I have heard it. Perhaps you can clarify this for me. Thanks ^~^!

Nope. You can record anything if you have a good reason to, and a warrent. It's not as complicated as movies make it seem. There's no secret van that sits out front. Basically, if it's a cell phone. We can call the company (if it's a reasonably short time after the call) and get a tap on any phone. (Patriot Act!) If it's a land line same thing. As far as calls that have already happened well that just depends on who they called. (a lot of businesses record all phone calls)
An example is when a dealer used to call his baby momma at her secritary job. The company was recording those calls. Hey it was their phone.

Revolutionary:
How much force are you allowed to use if a suspect is armed?

What level of armed?
If they're armed with fists and harsh language a non-lethal item can be used (pepper spray, a tackle)
If you mean with a chair leg or something than I can basically brain them with a baton or 'semi-lethal weapon' if I need to. (meaning a weapon that COULD kill someone but not usually used for that)
If they have a gun (or something that looks very much like a gun like those airsoft guns spray-painted black) we shoot to kill. Usually if you can you try to give them chances to drop the gun (they never do...)

Did you ever see Donnie Brasco?

Does your job alternate between boring and dangerous? That's the general impression I'm getting.

How often have you worn Kevlar? Do you ever wear or carry items on your person while undercover which, if found, might compromise your identity? Like maybe your shield or ID, in case you had to break cover? Or is it better to trust folks will believe you when you say, "I'm a cop."

Doesn't the Patriot Act only apply to Federal, anti-terrorism type stuff? Can you really get a tap on a cell for, say, a suspected mid-level drug dealer using the Patriot Act?

dragontiers:

Sorry, it took me a while to respond I have a much heavier caseload in the summer and thus, less free time.

1) Not as often as you'd think. For starters most petty thieves are drug addicts and don't think to do that. If they do it doesn't derail much few people who legally own something would have ANY reason to take off the serial numbers.

2) It is a case by case basis. I'd say 3 out of 4 times the person who has the item knows very well that it was stolen on at least that it wasn't gained in any legal way (Why would your jobless friend, whom you know has a history of theft, sell you a $2000 TV for $100?) If there is sufficient evidence a person in possession of stolen goods can be charged with 'theft by receiving' it is a misdemeanor. We usually waive it if the person leads us to the original thief. (Unless they're a fence)

3) It is flat out illegal around here. It still has some grey because it could be sold as 'art' or something. And I don't usually have time to waste on that sort of nonsense. I think if the law allows the sale of an item it's the privilege of the citizen to sell that good.
It isn't very hard to make laws to make the sale of a particular item illegal. For example there is a small town not far from here where it is illegal to sell curling irons, this was due to a large number of houses catching fire in the 80's.

4) Pawn shops aren't usually the scum of the earth like depicted in movies. They are being used less and less because of so many laws requiring proof of ownership before sale. Most of the pawn shop owners around here are on a first name basis with some detectives. Many of them will tell me about someone who brings in something fishy, try to get their name, and give it to me for example. This is a fairly common practice throughout the country. However I work at night so pawnshops are usually something someone else will investigate for me. I on the other hand, scour craigslist frequently. I think I've gotten at least ... let me check... 41 arrests from craigslist (and similar sites) in the last year.

5) Most 'social laws' are in the most professional and technical terms called 'a fucking stupid waste of time'. Few are enforced actively. Police see enough weirdos and real threats to not really care if two homosexuals are getting boinking. We do have a sodomy law here the only time I've seen it used was when it is tacked on to a rape charge.

6)Oh, I did forget about them. Maybe because for me it's never personally come up. I guess most criminals are not the religious type (that happens AFTER they're in jail) The thing is legally speaking, if you tell your clergymen you've committed a serious crime (not like speeding or something) he is obligated to tell the police. Most seminaries do let them know this fact. However personal details like "I just get so mad sometimes, I want to hurt everyone" or something like that are only given if the Clergy wishes to and cannot be coerced.

7)That's pretty much a Hollywood thing. The thing is staties and feds don't usually come in unless you ask them to. (they have nicer toys) Any time I've worked with the ATF or FBI they have be professional and okay guys. Wanting to get their collars as much as we do. In law enforcement we are taught very harsh lessons on 'rank' and 'the line of command' but we are also taught that teamwork is invaluable. The rouge cop that goes on his own usually gets killed or fired.
In undercover work your identity is usually only known to your direct superiors. It hasn't happened to me but I know another guy who got arrested while undercover. His boss came and bonded him out and the trial was thrown out by the DA for 'lack of evidence' and then when he was done being undercover it wasn't on his record because he was using a fake identity.

8) It depends on the department the bigger the department the more likely it is that you're not supposed to accept gifts. It can cause problems if you always take a free coffee from the same gas station and they get robbed. "Where were you when we needed you!? You take our coffee and don't protect us!?" they might say. Or it could be a bribe in disguise. That being said however, most departments only enforce it if it becomes a problem. Like in the above scenario you'd only get in trouble when the gas station clerk says that on TV, because now you've made the department look bad. It's on and off duty that it's not allowed.
I've had problems with restaurants not letting me see the check. So I've developed a habit of memorizing the prices of everything I order. That way when they won't let me pay I leave a cash 'tip' that is greater than the cost of the meal would've been by bit. No one is going to trick me in to not giving them money for their hard work.

Samurai Goomba:
Did you ever see Donnie Brasco?

Does your job alternate between boring and dangerous? That's the general impression I'm getting.

How often have you worn Kevlar? Do you ever wear or carry items on your person while undercover which, if found, might compromise your identity? Like maybe your shield or ID, in case you had to break cover? Or is it better to trust folks will believe you when you say, "I'm a cop."

Doesn't the Patriot Act only apply to Federal, anti-terrorism type stuff? Can you really get a tap on a cell for, say, a suspected mid-level drug dealer using the Patriot Act?

nope
Some parts of investigation can be tedious but i wouldn't say boring. Definitly has spurts of danger though.

I only wore it early in my career when I was part of the anti-gang unit. It was required. They actually don't stop as much as movies make you think. Most of the time if I needed to 'break cover' it would be done by dialing a number or giving a weird signal to someone outside. THEY rush in and arrest everyone.

Oh that, it's a running gag around here to say 'read the patriot act!' whenever you have to do anything that people generally think is an invasion of privicy. (it's from arrested development). However tapping phones with probable cause has been allowed since phones came in to existance. What the patriot act actually does is allows the federal govnm't to tap... well pretty much whoever they want, without a warrent as long as they can give a good reason on paper LATER. A warrent is the same thing but you have to give a good reason BEFORE you can tap.
The Patriot Act allows a lot of other stuff too but I'd rather not get in to that. *grumble*

ace_of_something:
*grumble*

Oh, I'm emotionally on the same page as you with that piece of legislation. The main difference is that, as a detective, you actually see the GOOD side of the Patriot Act working for you.

With me (Joe Citizen), I get to wonder if Mulder is listening in on me whenever I order a pizza.

How much do political connections, family and media exposure figure into promotions? Does good work get rewarded consistently in your area, or do you (or did you) have a lot of boneheads above you (keeping in mind they probably can't track you down based on your profile here)? Just thought I'd ask-obviously you're not feeling like Serpico or anything based on your responses.

Samurai Goomba:

ace_of_something:
*grumble*

Oh, I'm emotionally on the same page as you with that piece of legislation. The main difference is that, as a detective, you actually see the GOOD side of the Patriot Act working for you.

With me (Joe Citizen), I get to wonder if Mulder is listening in on me whenever I order a pizza.

How much do political connections, family and media exposure figure into promotions? Does good work get rewarded consistently in your area, or do you (or did you) have a lot of boneheads above you (keeping in mind they probably can't track you down based on your profile here)? Just thought I'd ask-obviously you're not feeling like Serpico or anything based on your responses.


Like any other job politics does come in to play. But having a good record helps a lot as well as good work. For example I have been promoted a lot and I know part of it is that I'm very friendly and try to be helpful most people remember me and think 'hey yeah, he's a good guy'. Of course if you're nice to ANYONE some people think you're kissing ass.

ace_of_something:

Will the Great:
I've got a question, more relating to PIs but I'm hoping you can answer anyway.

There's doctor-patient privilage, and lawyer-client privilage. Is there a similar thing that prevents a PI from being called to testify against a client? If so, how far does it extend?

Nope, there isn't. There's only 4 ways to get out of testifying if supenoaed You've mentioned two of them, the other is being married to the defendant. The last is being comatose or dead.

Perry Mason demonstrated the lack of any kind of PI-client confidentiality fifty years ago. What, nobody else watched that growing up? Anytime Paul did work for Perry that ended up putting near an investigation, he always wound up on the stand telling whatever he knew.

just to break off from all the serious questions here... Have you ever Pistol Whipped anyone?

Yet another person who signed up specifically for this thread.

Three questions, first: That dude who blew your cover. Did you ever talk to him again? That would have made for one hell of an awkward conversation I bet. Could he conceivably be charged with anything for that?

Next, what are the least effective tactics criminals commonly use? The most effective?

Finally, many many years ago (before 95% of tv was crap law shows and reality tv), I saw some drug dealer who weeded out undercover cops by making everyone do something illegal in front of them, like smoke a joint/do a line. I know being asked if you're a cop isn't going to work, but if I were a drug dealer (I'm not!), I would totally make any potential underling or associate do something like that before letting them hear/see something they could use against me. Did you ever have criminals "test" you by smoking a joint with them or something similar? I'm surprised it's not more common. What would you do in that kind of situation? If drinking is a big deal and a lot of paperwork, I assume going along with them is not acceptable.

ace_of_something:

Waif:
When it comes to under-cover sting operations, what rights do the detectives have in dealing with the subject of their operation? Like, what can they do and what can't they do? Rather I am thinking of how much they can monitor of the subject, where they can monitor the subject, and with what methods. I remember hearing somewhere that you can record anyone's phone/in your immediate vicinity conversation as long as one person who is being recorded knows about it. Though I have always doubted this ever since I have heard it. Perhaps you can clarify this for me. Thanks ^~^!

Nope. You can record anything if you have a good reason to, and a warrent. It's not as complicated as movies make it seem. There's no secret van that sits out front. Basically, if it's a cell phone. We can call the company (if it's a reasonably short time after the call) and get a tap on any phone. (Patriot Act!) If it's a land line same thing. As far as calls that have already happened well that just depends on who they called. (a lot of businesses record all phone calls)
An example is when a dealer used to call his baby momma at her secritary job. The company was recording those calls. Hey it was their phone.

Wow that is awesome to know ^~^! Thanks for the information, I sure do appreciate it ^~^!

Thanks for taking the time to respond when you're so busy. You're answers were very informative.

ace_of_something:

4) Pawn shops aren't usually the scum of the earth like depicted in movies. They are being used less and less because of so many laws requiring proof of ownership before sale.

How does proof of ownership work? I mean, there are plenty of things I own, but I have no idea how I would "prove" I owned it, beyond it being in my possession. And speaking of possession, does that "possession is 9/10 of the law" quote have any merit?

ace_of_something:

Onyx Oblivion:

OT: How long does it actually take to get DNA test results?

Unless it's semen it usually takes about 2 months. Often times yielding an 'inconclusive' result. Semen if it's a 'pure' sample (IE doesn't have too much of a woman's natural bacterium in it.) it can take about 2 weeks.
Now this is only true for large departments that have Forensic Scientists who work for them. On smaller departments it can take even longer since it has to be sent to the larger departments.

Since it doesn't look like someone is questioning this, why the huge difference? Is it just the difference in the amount of DNA that is available or are people just more willing to work with semen?

What do insiders think about all the resources and time spent on imprisoning nonviolent drug offenders?

ace_of_something:
Another uncle who is one year from retiring in the(Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.) He has 19 years in this department under his belt and 9 years in on Cook County Sheriff's before that (that would be Chicago)

I used to live in Cook County, small world.
Anyway, my question is: What is some cop/detective lingo that you use?

Pimppeter2:
Is it the ultimate goal of every cop and detective to look this badass?

*legs turn to jelly*

Albert_Wesker657:
just to break off from all the serious questions here... Have you ever Pistol Whipped anyone?

No, but man I can think of a time or two... some people just don't learn and the only way they'll get it is from a good ass whuppin' sometimes.

dragontiers:
Thanks for taking the time to respond when you're so busy. You're answers were very informative.

ace_of_something:

4) Pawn shops aren't usually the scum of the earth like depicted in movies. They are being used less and less because of so many laws requiring proof of ownership before sale.

How does proof of ownership work? I mean, there are plenty of things I own, but I have no idea how I would "prove" I owned it, beyond it being in my possession. And speaking of possession, does that "possession is 9/10 of the law" quote have any merit?

Big ticket items like a television or a lawnmower often come with warranties and a little card (that many people throw away) that shows 'proof of ownership'. Obviously this only helps a little bit and we don't expect pawn shops to check every single item. Just major electronics and things with engines. Almost anything else they're required to check your ID or something similar before they purchase from you. If it came down to thing where two people claim ownership it tends to go to the person who called the police because they had smashed windows and the like.

Possession matters a lot when it comes to holding evidence like in drug cases. Meaning that 'i was holding it for a friend' is not going to help much. Other than that the phrase is just something people say on TV.

My father has been arrested a few times over the years for domestic violence and perhaps spousal abuse, though I don't believe any charges were filed, nor do I think he's ever had a court appearance. Would there still be a record made of his arrests, and would I be able to look that up?

Halo82:
Yet another person who signed up specifically for this thread.

Three questions, first: That dude who blew your cover. Did you ever talk to him again? That would have made for one hell of an awkward conversation I bet. Could he conceivably be charged with anything for that?

Next, what are the least effective tactics criminals commonly use? The most effective?

Finally, many many years ago (before 95% of tv was crap law shows and reality tv), I saw some drug dealer who weeded out undercover cops by making everyone do something illegal in front of them, like smoke a joint/do a line. I know being asked if you're a cop isn't going to work, but if I were a drug dealer (I'm not!), I would totally make any potential underling or associate do something like that before letting them hear/see something they could use against me. Did you ever have criminals "test" you by smoking a joint with them or something similar? I'm surprised it's not more common. What would you do in that kind of situation? If drinking is a big deal and a lot of paperwork, I assume going along with them is not acceptable.

1) To the old cover blowing dude, I have never seen him since. He couldn't be charged with anything because he had no idea what was going on and had no 'criminal intent.
2) Least effective? I would say robbing people they know. This happens a lot with gangs and drug users. For example: Johnny finds out that Bobby has decided to start selling weed for a friend. So Johnny goes and robs Bobby at gunpoint. Since Johnny and Bobby have known each other for years. It isn't to hard to find, arrest, and convict Johnny. Idiotic things like this happen like... every single day. As far as most effective well, I'd say 'KISS' Keep it Simple, Stupid. Is the rule to follow.
3) I've never actually had someone 'say if you're not a cop do this line of coke!' or something like that, probably because that's not a good way to make friends in the drug dealing world also despite what movies show. Most dealers don't want their low level dealers or their underlings high when they're doing business, and business is what we deal with. However if push comes to shove every department has different rules about it. In most cases it's "If it's going to cause you major harm/death not to do it, take the drugs" in our instance after taking the drugs you were to call your handler (the guy who is always watching) and have them take you to the hospital.

You better believe there is some significant paperwork with it.

I have had people give me drugs and I say things like "i'll save it for tonight with some girls down on 13th street" or use slight of hand to make it look like i snorted something. Before going undercover we are heavily trained in slight of hand. Bet you never thought that, UC cops get some lessons from a magician, did you?

crudus:

ace_of_something:

Onyx Oblivion:

OT: How long does it actually take to get DNA test results?

Unless it's semen it usually takes about 2 months. Often times yielding an 'inconclusive' result. Semen if it's a 'pure' sample (IE doesn't have too much of a woman's natural bacterium in it.) it can take about 2 weeks.
Now this is only true for large departments that have Forensic Scientists who work for them. On smaller departments it can take even longer since it has to be sent to the larger departments.

Since it doesn't look like someone is questioning this, why the huge difference? Is it just the difference in the amount of DNA that is available or are people just more willing to work with semen?

I couldn't tell you the science behind it all and don't quote me if I turn out to be wrong. But blood is easier to contaminate and only gets you down to people in the same blood line (not an individual) which can be a problem. I'll see if I can't find you a better answer by asking people who know more.

ScarletRider:
My father has been arrested a few times over the years for domestic violence and perhaps spousal abuse, though I don't believe any charges were filed, nor do I think he's ever had a court appearance. Would there still be a record made of his arrests, and would I be able to look that up?

If he was arrested charges were filed though they may have been dropped.
If a report was written there is a record it will likely be listed as 'Nolle prosequi' or 'charges dropped'. Arrest records are public record. As far as obtaining them it's not very easy in most counties. You usually have to call a lawyer or the county clerk/comptroller and fill out some paperwork possibly pay a filing fee. Some counties have restrictions like you can only look up family members etc.
or do what most people do... ask a cop friend to look up the local records for you and have him/her write them down on a piece of scratch paper. :p

I don't actually have a question, but I have to applaud you for deciding to go into a career (is it still called a career if you work for the country like this? Is it "civil service?" I guess that is a question.) and, among other things, providing me with a lot of interesting reading material (especially with your other thread)

ace_of_something:

If he was arrested charges were filed though they may have been dropped.
If a report was written there is a record it will likely be listed as 'Nolle prosequi' or 'charges dropped'. Arrest records are public record. As far as obtaining them it's not very easy in most counties. You usually have to call a lawyer or the county clerk/comptroller and fill out some paperwork possibly pay a filing fee. Some counties have restrictions like you can only look up family members etc.
or do what most people do... ask a cop friend to look up the local records for you and have him/her write them down on a piece of scratch paper. :p

Interesting. Thanks for your answers! And wow, this thread hasn't had a reply since June? O_o Well, if you're still answering, here's another question: Let's say I stumble upon a dead body, say taking a short cut down a dark alley and stumble upon a murder scene. Naturally, I would call the police in on it, so what kind of questions would they ask? What else could I expect to happen?

Enigmers:
I don't actually have a question, but I have to applaud you for deciding to go into a career (is it still called a career if you work for the country like this? Is it "civil service?" I guess that is a question.)

It's a career and civil service! Although we often just call it 'the job'

ScarletRider:
if you're still answering, here's another question: Let's say I stumble upon a dead body, say taking a short cut down a dark alley and stumble upon a murder scene. Naturally, I would call the police in on it, so what kind of questions would they ask? What else could I expect to happen?

It all depends on the situation. Most dead bodies are 'found' by someone especially when said body is dumped in a public place.
More than anything they'd ask you things like:
"did you touch the body?" (for the love of god don't!)
"did you see anyone?"
"did you see what happened?"
and so on. Simply stumbling on the scene of a crime in a public place doesn't usually make you a suspect. Now, if you find a dead body in your living room... that might cause you some trouble you.

ace_of_something:
Quoted for attention

Since this seems to be more like "Ask a Cop 2.0", I'll just ask my cop question here instead of necroing the thread that hasn't been posted in in a longer while. Anyways, I was recently pulled over at night (speeding), and they shine you in the face with a bright light continuously. Is that mostly so you can't drive away easily and what do cops do when they're just sitting in their vehicle while you're waiting for them to come over and get your license?

newguy77:

ace_of_something:
Quoted for attention

Since this seems to be more like "Ask a Cop 2.0", I'll just ask my cop question here instead of necroing the thread that hasn't been posted in in a longer while. Anyways, I was recently pulled over at night (speeding), and they shine you in the face with a bright light continuously. Is that mostly so you can't drive away easily and what do cops do when they're just sitting in their vehicle while you're waiting for them to come over and get your license?

The light thing is to see in the car. It's not exactly easy to shine a flashlight (especially the bigguns we get) at the floor of your car and console with out it hitting you in the face. The way you react to the bright light it also one of the first signs of substance abuse. People who're really drunk/high tend to look into the light rather than away.
While you're waiting could be a lot of different things but in most departments when you pull someone over, you put the car's plate in the computer, or call dispatch if your dept. can't afford computers, That gives you who owns the car, their record, and if the car is stolen. The most likely place for a Cop to be injured is a traffic stop (2nd most is a domestic violence call btw) so it helps to know everything. In our dept you also have to turn on the camera and say where you are and all the information you just found from the computer (in case you die or something).

That and he's probably secretly calling his friends on the radio to make fun of your haircut.

How can you tell if someone is impersonating an officer? There was a big to-do around here a few years back because this guy would attach flashers to the hood of his car, pull women over, flash a badge and demand to inspect their car--then he'd force his way in and rape them. Many of his victims kept silent out of fear they'd somehow be arrested for resisting his advances. Is there a way to tell a fake badge from a real one?

I do hate to beat a dead horse, so to speak, but if this thread is still accepting submissions, I'd be grateful for an answer. How does an average person generally react when they come upon a crime scene? A murder, specifically.

Sindaine:
How can you tell if someone is impersonating an officer? There was a big to-do around here a few years back because this guy would attach flashers to the hood of his car, pull women over, flash a badge and demand to inspect their car--then he'd force his way in and rape them. Many of his victims kept silent out of fear they'd somehow be arrested for resisting his advances. Is there a way to tell a fake badge from a real one?

It depends on the department. Everyone has different protocol for badges. It's best to familiarize yourself with what it looks like.
That's very frightening. Ask an Officer who there supervisor is when they pull you over if you think they're some funny business in addition if the CAR doesn't look like a squad car. Politely refuse to get in asking for the supervisor or a second car. If your fear is that explain yourself. I think in an area where this has been occuring most officers will understand if you are calm. Keep in mind unmarked cars are for detectives usually unless there are two people in nearly all large cities detective always travel in pairs.
I am the kind of cop that drives a 'unmarked car' (though with the special mirrors and bumpers it's still pretty marked) and we do NOT make traffic stops unless you're doing something like going 100 mph in a 50 zone and happen to be driving by. Even than we might just radio a squad car in the area to intercept them (it's easier and safer than trying to catch up with them).

ScarletRider:
I do hate to beat a dead horse, so to speak, but if this thread is still accepting submissions, I'd be grateful for an answer. How does an average person generally react when they come upon a crime scene? A murder, specifically.

There are as many different reactions as there are people. If it's a loved one usually with wailing, gnashing teeth, and the rending of garments. If it's a stranger. Most people approach cautiously and yell at the body... no matter how decayed or gross it is. ("Hey buddy!? You okay!?")

The exception is in neighborhoods that have high body counts. Those people tend to just call the police with slight panic saying 'we got a body here' and know to keep far away.

edit: Sorry about me not replying I just get busy sometimes :-)

Thanks for your replies! :) This has been really informative, and I hope I can trouble you for another one. Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that someone was using my social security number without my knowledge or consent. My assumption is for a job, or for a credit card, but there's doubtless other considerations I haven't considered. If I find this is the case, what action should I take, and what penalties can the person in question expect to face? Also, what repercussions can this have on my part?

Thanks again, I really appreciate your answers. :)

ScarletRider:
Thanks for your replies! :) This has been really informative, and I hope I can trouble you for another one. Let's say, hypothetically speaking, that someone was using my social security number without my knowledge or consent. My assumption is for a job, or for a credit card, but there's doubtless other considerations I haven't considered. If I find this is the case, what action should I take, and what penalties can the person in question expect to face? Also, what repercussions can this have on my part?

Thanks again, I really appreciate your answers. :)

Better late than never. A person using someone else's personal information is to be charged with various levels of fraud depending on the damages it does to the victim is what level of charge it will be. Best action is to contact either your credit card company (who investigates further and gets police involved if needed) or if it's a matter of people trying to get a job call the police.
In fact I investigate such things. They're actually really easy to track if it's local. Repercussions? You mean as the victim? None as far as I know.

Do you know or call 'crime scene cleaners'? People who handle the bodies and cleaning up the blood and such. Most people assume it's the officer's job to clean up all the nastiness but it isn't.

What does someone do if the police don't seem very willing to help? A few years ago I was walking home from school when a black SUV pulled near the curb and the passenger threw a handful of broken glass in my face. I was wearing sunglasses so no shards got in my eyes but it still hurt. I managed to get the license plate (148 LND, i'll never forget it) and called the police station to report it, but whoever I talked to didn't seem to care very much. I got "there's really not a whole lot we can do but we'll look into it" as an answer. I would see that SUV with the same two douchebags driving around once in a while months after that.

Hmmm...gone through the thread, very informative, and although the question of weapons has come up a few times, nobody seems to have asked about what other bits and pieces you carry around that helps in your job. Was wondering, do US detectives keep anything unusual in their pockets?

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