Would you help stop a crime in progress? These folks did

If you saw a crime in progress, would you simply shut the shades?

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Such was the case with Catherine “Kitty” Genovese in 1964. The 28-year-old was murdered and raped near the doorway of her New York City apartment building while at least 37 folks heard her screams or saw the attack. Many simply closed their window shades. Only one woman bothered to call police.

That’s not the case on the University of Arizona campus, where a handful of folks are being honored in a Tuesday ceremony for their assistance to the UA Police Department, according to a news release from UAPD.

Some of the crimes – like shaking a vending machine to get free snacks – are nowhere near the murderous stage, but they are crimes nonetheless and these folks deserve kudos for doing more than simply walking away.

The honorees are:

Graffiti busters – Doug Archer, Frankie Kolb and Peter Smith:
This trio was working at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences when they noted folks spray painting the building and a nearby wall. They immediately called police and had enough information to lead to three arrests for vandalism.

Bicycle guardian – Justin Armer:
Armer was outside the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering building when he saw someone trying to break a bike lock with a hammer. Rather than simply go on his merry way, glad it wasn’t his own bicycle, Armer approached the would-be thief, who ran away without the bicycle. If that wasn’t enough, Armer followed the suspect and called police. An arrest followed.

Vending machine savior – Arun Ganesan:
Ganesan helped get several folks arrested when he called police after watching those folks shake a vending machine. Lots of free goodies had fallen from the shaken machine, but their snacking was cut short when Ganesan called police.

Thief trapper – Chiara Figueroa:
Figueroa had her laptop and several other items stolen on campus when she received an e-mail that she thought might be related to the theft. She tracked down the e-mailer and gave her info to police. UAPD followed up on her lead and found the person not only stole stuff from Figueroa but also stole from several other victims. Yes, another arrest.

Another graffiti buster – Jared Melillo:
Melillo, who lived near the new recreation center construction site, noted several taggers having a field day on one of the new buildings. He quickly called police, who were able to arrest one of the suspects.

Felony finder – Kurt Myers:
Myers was jogging around campus when he noted two people drinking alcohol behind the open door of a UA building that was not open to the public. He called police to report what may have been trespassing, but turned into a bigger catch. One of the suspects had a felony warrant out for arrest. Both were arrested, thanks to Myers taking a moment to report them.

Double duty dude – David De La Rosa:
De La Rosa helped with arrests in two separate crimes, one that involved a stolen kid and another that involved a suspected killer.
De La Rosa noted a car parked with a kid in the backseat, but no parent or guardian anywhere to be found. He reported the sighting to police, who found the car had been stolen – with the child still in it. Car and child were returned to their owner.
He also reported a panhandler near Student Union who kept approaching women. Police tracked down the panhandler and found the person hand a felony warrant for homicide. Goodbye, panhandler.

Suspicious suspect nabber – Miguel Perez:
Perez was working on campus when he saw a would-be thief playing around with a bicycle lock. He noted the person had been milling around earlier, as if scoping out the bike rack. His quick call to police led to an arrest.

Monocle man – Riley Schock:
Schock was out walking his dog when he found several monocles lying around his neighborhood. He took them home, where a friend recalled a news report about monocles being stolen from a UA building. Schock turned the monocles over the UAPD, returning stolen property that was valued at an estimated $10,000.

The Partners with Our Community awards will be presented at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17 (today!) at the University of Arizona Police Department, 1852 E. First St.


wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Do you report crimes in progress or just go on your merry way?

Do you know any other heroes who helped authorities with reporting, identifying or researching criminal activity?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in Crime, danger, Heroes, life, notable folks, Police/fire/law and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Would you help stop a crime in progress? These folks did

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! Awright…who voted to help the criminal… 🙂
    Depends upon the crime, whether or not I would assist. Purse snatchin’? I’d probably run the sucker down and hold him for the cops. Unarmed during a bank heist, six guys with automatic weapons? Do what the man says.

  2. azmouse says:

    I would try to stop it myself if I could, or call the police. Sometimes you just have to make a split second decision, so calling the police might not be feasible at the moment.
    How amazing that guy saved the little kid in the car!

    • Rynski says:

      yes, i like the kid in the car story, too. also fond of the vending machine savior (even though vending machine food has gotten junkier and more expensive).

  3. Rynski says:

    mornin’ radmax! i thought it was YOU who voted to help the criminal (haha) – but your response shows me how wrong i was. good for you on offering to chase a purse snatcher. and yes, i understand a lot of the heroism would depend on circumstance. i think automatic weapons would deter a lot of would-be heroes.
    glad to see poll chugging along with folks actually doing something to help their fellow man. i recall someone getting beat up on a nyc subway by about six burly guys and other passengers switching train cars to get away from it.

  4. tiponeill says:

    You really love that yellow journalism don’t you ? 🙂
    The article that you linked to about Kitty Genovese is a good one which I urge people to read in full
    ”Yeah, there was a murder,” Mr. De May said. ”Yeah, people heard something. You can question how a few people behaved. But this wasn’t 38 people watching a woman be slaughtered for 35 minutes and saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be involved.”’
    But sensationalism always gets more readers.

  5. leftfield says:

    There have been studies done on the subject of people intervening in crisis situations.  It seems that the more people that are around, the less likely is any one person to intervene.  In those circumstances the feeling of personal responsibility to act is diluted and people also wait to see how others behave before deciding how they should behave. 

    • Rynski says:

      interesting input, leftfield.
      also got a chuckle out of your examples below. too bad i could not fit them all in the poll.

      • leftfield says:

        Human behavior is very interesting.  I once witnessed a crime in progress with millions of witnesses and no one got involved, though they talked about ad nauseum.  Seems this crazed religious terrorist from Texas got ahold of some weapons and started attacking people without provocation, killing thousands.  Worse part is, they let him go on a technicality; mental illness or something.

    • Jennatoolz says:

      This reminds me of a video clip I watched last night from some Japanese show…meant to be humorous of course…I believe it was called something like ‘Crowd Control’. They would film a lone person with a hidden camera, walking with his or her briefcase. Then, suddenly a crowd of people would come around the corner running and screaming towards the lone person. The lone person of course reacted by turning right around, and started running and screaming along with the crowd, not even knowing they were on hidden camera, and not even knowing what they were running and screaming from. It was kinda funny to watch, but I know I’d do the same thing as the lone person.

  6. leftfield says:

    If I saw someone going into an ACORN office pretending to be a prostitute, I would certainly call the police to arrest them.  On the other hand, if I saw someone setting off a bomb at a B of A, I would probably not want to “get involved”.  If Dick Cheney were being attacked by six burly guys and I saw it, I would add one scrawny guy to the six.  And, if Karl Rove’s heart were on fire and my bladder was full, I might help put out the fire.

  7. koreyk says:

    In the early 90’s I had a four year stint commuting to Cleveland for a project (a rainforest!), and frequently visited the downtown office of one of our company’s consultants.  On one visit the project team was leaving for lunch, with one guy, Dave, about five seconds in the lead.  When we got outside, Dave was nowhere to be seen.  We waited around, and he returned about five minutes later, out of breath, carrying a purse.

    It seems that Dave got slammed by a runner right as he was walking out the door, only to hear a lady yell “stop him, he has my purse”.  Now, Dave was not even close to what one might describe as a “fine physical specimen”, but he took off after the purse snatcher and kept up with him until he ditched the purse as a diversion. 

    Dave’s first comment (not counting whheeeeze…whheeeeze…) was that he felt like he was in scene from a cop show, what with trying to run through clots of people amid a backdrop of steam rising up out of all of the manholes.  More interesting was his second comment, which was that his reaction seemed instinctual.  It was only after the fact that he realized he had not even thought about whether the guy might be armed, or what he would do if he caught him. 

  8. Jennatoolz says:

    I’m glad to see that there are people out there that are getting recognized for helping people in need, and taking action when it comes to these types of situations. 🙂

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