Dallas Cops Report Increase in Stolen Gear

Experts warn equipment can be used to pose as law enforcement

By Ellen Goldberg
|  Monday, Aug 17, 2009  |  Updated 10:30 PM CDT
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Cops See Rise in Thefts of Guns, Other Equipment

NBCDFW.com

Dallas police said they started seeing in increase in stolen equipment during the past year.

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Cops See Rise in Thefts of Guns, Other Equipment

Police gear such as guns, badges and uniforms are floating around the Metroplex.
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Official Dallas police gear such as guns, badges, and uniforms are floating around the Metroplex unaccounted for.

While some of the items have been lost, the bulk of missing equipment has been stolen.

In the past few months, all types of equipment stolen from Dallas officers' homes and cars. Dallas police said they started seeing in increase in stolen equipment during the past year.

A raid jacket, police radio and department-issued pistol was stolen July 18 from a Dallas officer's personal car in Red Oak. Just eight days earlier, another officer's assault rifle and 15 magazines of ammunition was stolen from his DeSoto home.

"A lot of police equipment has been taken, not just in Dallas, but throughout the Metroplex," Senior Cpl. Janice Crowther said.

The department reported 15 cases of stolen gear in the past five months.

"We are hoping these are random burglaries where police officers' equipment just happened to be involved," Crowther said.

But some law enforcement experts said they the seemingly random break-ins may be part of a worrisome nationwide trend.

"It is not just a local problem," said Danny Defenbaugh, a former FBI agent.

Defenbaugh, who spent nearly 33 years in bureau, was formerly the special agent in charge of the FBI's Dallas field office.

"The badges and things of that sort are always going to be a concern, because they can be used for more nefarious purposes," he said.

Law enforcement experts say they are concerned criminals could use the stolen gear to infiltrate high-profile events such as the Super Bowl.

But Defenbaugh said is more likely that people will use it to portray themselves as members of law enforcement.

Ryan Caskey, who is accused of posing as a member of an FBI task force, allegedly even duped Dallas police with his bulletproof vest, badge and handgun.

Dallas police said the department is examining ways to reduce its growing number of cases of stolen gear.

"What we are doing is aggressively trying to make sure equipment is safe, aggressively trying to find lost equipment and aggressively trying to find the suspects who are responsible for it," Crowther said.

Defenbaugh recommends people use caution if they see flashing blue lights.

"I don't think you are going to ever get in trouble with any public law enforcement entity for going to a public place to pull over for a policeman," he said.

Dallas police said officers are expected to follow certain policies to protect their equipment, but the department didn't want to comment on specifics for safety reasons.

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