Dallas police are marking some car burglary reports "untrustworthy," as part of initiatives that are designed to revamp the department's reporting procedures.
But many victims told the Dallas Morning News that they had not idea the burglaries they reported weren't considered crimes. They said Dallas police never indicated that officers believed their claims were false.
The newspaper's investigation raises questions about the accuracy of the dramatic double-digit drop in crime for 2008 that Dallas police reported earlier this year.
The DMN said the police department's change in reporting procedures "played a significant role" in the decrease. Instead of a 10 percent drop, the city would have only seen a 7 percent decrease without the new reporting procedures.
Under previous guidelines, a crime report was created whenever someone reported a crime -- even if the person did not seem credible or if evidence didn't support it.
But now, officers can create an "investigation of" report if they don't find the victim to be credible, the newspaper reported. Those cases don't appear in the department's crime statistics unless it later gets reclassified as a crime.
Police say the new procedures result in crime statistics that more accurately report how much crime actually happens.
The DMN, which looked at "investigation of" car break-in cases from April, reported that most of the reports involved people who reported the burglaries by phone.
Victims are supposed to be told to call an investigator to finalize their report, but many told the newspaper they weren't told they needed to do so. The investigator is also supposed to call the victim at least once, but victims also said they didn't get a call.
The department is now reviewing the system, police told the newspaper.