San Francisco Bay Area police departments say a move toward online reporting of minor offenses is getting officers away from their desks and out on patrol, reports the San Francisco Examiner. Some of those departments have launched sites to report so-called “suspectless” crimes, such as bicycle and cell-phone theft, vandalism, and lost property. In San Mateo, where it takes an officer about 40 minutes to complete a crime report, that translates into more than eight workweeks per year, says Lt. Tom Daughtry. The San Francisco Police Department started taking crime reports on the Web two years ago, and the response has been “phenomenal.” Now, 10 percent to 12 percent of all reports are filed online, according to Lt. Bill Gitmed.
Although a handful of users have said the technology is tough to navigate, most find it easier and quicker than filing a report by phone or in person. That means more people wind up reporting crimes, which is good news for cities like San Francisco, where many residents are reluctant to do so. Tech-savvy Bay Area residents seem to be taking well to the Internet trend. In San Mateo, 518 reports were filed in the first six months after the Web feature was launched. That number nearly doubled in the second six months.