Reward for Information?
April 15, 2009 1:20 AM   Subscribe

Have you had any luck obtaining information after a burglary by offering a reward?

So my condo was broken into and pretty much everything was taken. (including ALL OF MY SHOES - Over 150 pairs! *sob*). I'm very, very upset and want whomever did it to be caught and subsequently prosecuted.

I live in a mid-size complex, but my condo is close to the entrance and right next to the mailboxes, so there are a lot of people coming and going at all hours of the day & night. I'm pretty sure someone HAD to have seen something, even if it didn't register as suspicious at the time.

My question is this - Have any of you had any success getting information by offering a reward? (I'm willing to pay several hundred dollars if someone has any information that leads to an arrest.)

If I DO end up offering the reward, do I have the people contact me or the police?

Thanks in advance!
posted by TurquoiseZebra to Grab Bag (15 answers total)
Response by poster: Also! I guess I should mention that I'm moving out of my house. Not sure if that'll affect your answers. Thanks!
posted by TurquoiseZebra at 1:31 AM on April 15, 2009

Would you offer the reward for information, or information that leads, ultimately, to the criminals arrest?
Obviously there is no camera in the lobby of your building. Have you tried local businesses to see if there are street cameras? 300 shoes in a bag would be hard to miss.
I would just ask around first. People are more willing to help a victim than Hollywood would have you believe. That's how I found my son's stolen bicycle years ago. The police had better things to do, apparently, so I became my own private dick. I followed a trail of eyewitnesses to the apartment building where the bike was stashed on a second floor balcony. I shimmied up and "stole" it back. HA! Got caught, but I was a rabid mother badger. I yelled in his face. Something about dogs not shitting in there own backyard, or some such...I don't remember exactly, but it was really good.
Try picking brains until you get close, then offer the reward based on an arrest.
Book 'em, Dano.
posted by Acacia at 2:57 AM on April 15, 2009

Oh my god, I looked at the pictures and I am stunned and so sorry for you. Were you away on vacation or something? Who knew you'd be gone?

I would ask the police about the reward, and about the contact information. Is there Crime Victims' Bureau in your area?
posted by Maisie Jay at 3:00 AM on April 15, 2009

Crime Victim Compensation Program, Arizona. I bet they'd have good advice.
posted by Maisie Jay at 3:04 AM on April 15, 2009

no, a reward will not help you.

a reward might help if someone from the area had just broken into searching for some cash to finance a habit. those people are usually well-known by their peers and with a bit of an incentive you'll get some good hints (and a million attempts to get the cash without really knowing anything).

this is another case. these are professionals. they clear out abandoned and foreclosed buildings. you're lucky they didn't rip out the copper wiring in the walls or the aluminum pipes in the bathroom. they only steal what they can sell and I highly recommend checking craigslist for every city within a 200 mile radius obsessively. your stuff will show up either there or at a flea market in the area. they probably used a generic white van and wouldn't have been noticed by anyone seeing them. you'd be financing shysters for giving you false hope.

consider offering a reward for the return of specific, hard to find items. would you recognize a certain table they took? is there an unmistakable sign? you find the table, you find your guy.
posted by krautland at 3:14 AM on April 15, 2009

Crap, I don't know how I missed the link to your photos the first time around. That's HORRIBLE!! Makes me think you were being cased by hoodlums in the lobby. Anyone chat you up by the mailboxes a week or so ago, while you were unlocking your door?
What is the heck is the dust on the bedside table? It's a clue.
The opening throught the broken window is tiny. Tweeker-size.
posted by Acacia at 3:58 AM on April 15, 2009

I don't think a reward would be helpful either. If any of your neighbours read a flyer you put up and saw something they would probably come forward with the information without the promise of a reward. A reward may encourage someone to make something up to get money out of you. I'd have the people contact you and if you think their information is relevant then pass their contact into over to the police (a way for you to weed out people talking about a suspicious-looking person coming out of your apartment at 3 am three weeks ago when you know they are describing your boyfriend for example). I'm sorry you had to go though this, it really sucks.
posted by saucysault at 4:40 AM on April 15, 2009

WTF - This does not look like a normal burglary. Don't burglars take the valuable stuff and leave the shampoo and cream rinse alone?

Make a flyer and give it to everyone in the complex and in the neighborhood. Someone did that in my neighborhood and everyone was super vigilant for a while.

Watch Craigslist.

I don't think this is a reward situation but for sure I wouldn't meet people without the cops being involved.

I am sorry this happened to you. Good luck and be careful.
posted by snowjoe at 6:31 AM on April 15, 2009

The problem with rewards is that they usually just attract another class of criminal who will tell you anything you want to hear in exchange for money.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:14 AM on April 15, 2009

This took time. Even though they made a mess, the sheer quantity of stuff removed indicates multiple trips in and out of the condo; more exposure means greater likelihood that someone saw them. I would scour eBay, Craigslist, and every pawn shop in a 100 mile radius. I wouldn't bother with a reward. Either someone saw something, in which case they have no incentive not to tell you (provided you make the effort of asking--people are inherently lazy), or they didn't and will just try and scam you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:25 AM on April 15, 2009

Wow, that SUCKS. I am so sorry.

Given the insanely low-level stuff they took (along with the big high-ticket stuff), I can't help thinking this was someone who is out to get you. This is the kind of bullshit a crazy ex would pull. Got one of those?

Again, I am really sorry this happened to you.
posted by shiny blue object at 7:49 AM on April 15, 2009

TurquoiseZebra, I am so sorry for your loss. I know I am not answering your reward question, but my experience (when someone stole my bike), was to what Civil_Disobedient suggested. Actually, I called the same bike shop to buy another version of my recently stolen bike (I called something like 2 hours after my bike was stolen. I don't deal with loss well, and wanted to replace it immediately), and they told me that I needed to get in a cab and get over there right now because the guy who stole my bike was in the shop TRYING TO SELL MY STOLEN BIKE RIGHT BACK TO THEM.

Bad luck for them, there are scores of bike shops in the area - they just picked the wrong one. Idiots.

The folks in the store shared that thieves have to get rid of stuff they steal quickly, so they often try to sell it locally. But many shops turn away stuff when they suspect it's stolen, but they'd call the police and even keep it, if they had a head's up that it was stolen. In this case, the guys in the shop just recognized the bike because they just sold it to me a week ago, and they recognized their work (they had suggested and put on a certain bike seat). It seems like you had some very distinct stuff and a lot of it, and I imagine if you called around to vintage stops, etc., they would recognize it. Perhaps you can break up calling/monitoring the pawn, vintage, etc. shops/craigslist, etc, between your friends? No need to do this alone!

Ether way, best of luck to you.
posted by anitanita at 8:04 AM on April 15, 2009

I had a claw foot tub stolen from the side of my house (it was waiting there for a couple of weeks until the bathroom was ready for it). I put up a sign on my front porch saying my tub had been stolen and asking for information about it. A neighbor from across the street called and told me they watched the whole thing and that two guys came in the middle of the day and it seemed like everything was legit; that they had even broken the tail gate to their truck while loading the tub. I never did get the tub back, but it was interesting to know what had happened.
posted by sulaine at 8:16 AM on April 15, 2009

So I take it that your alarm had no motion detectors, only intrusion detectors on some of the windows and doors... Next time.

As far as an award goes, the above advice is missing one element. The thieves are probably local, and known to the police. Obviously they've done this before. If they haven't already, I'd ask them to interview the neighbors, and any workers who were in the neighborhood on the day of the robbery. Cable installers, Street sweepers, garbage collectors etc.

I'd also rip the alarm company a new hole. They should have been notified when they ripped the system off the wall. You may have a liability lawsuit here.
posted by Gungho at 8:21 AM on April 15, 2009

Yea, as mentioned above this sounds like someone being personally vindictive. Who knew you where going to be out of the area? Do you have personal enemies or people you think would like to either get your stuff or do emotional and financial harm to you?

A thief will not steal your Sweet-n-Low.
posted by ZaneJ. at 11:35 PM on April 15, 2009

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