Local News

Crime-Solving Formula Helps Cary Police Nab Lawbreakers

Posted May 28, 2006

— Good old-fashioned police work usually solves crimes, but sometimes investigators need extra help. The assistance for Cary police lets them solve crimes by the numbers.

When it comes to solving crimes in Cary, like a recent string of smash and grab robberies, Police have their own Crime Fighting Formula. Capt. David Wulff said the formula is like an detectives' check list -- ten bullet points that are applied to every crime report.

"Things like, is there a witness? Is there a suspect? Do we know who the suspect is? Descriptions, names. Was an arrest made? Is there physical evidence? Is there a vehicle description? These types of things," said Wulff.

Wulff said the more "yes" answers investigators can plug into the formula, the higher the solvability rate and better chance they have of closing the case.

"When an officer is at the scene, they are interviewing the victim, witnesses, someone at the scene," he said. "They're the only ones that know what's there. So, we need to get that information from them."

That information doesn't always add up to a high percentage rate. Take the recent smash-and-grab robberies -- the solvability rate on that case was just 14.8 percent, but the incidents fit a pattern. When investigators added them together, they eventually broke the case and made an arrest.

The formula has a few similarities to the CBS drama "Numb3rs." The show is based on a math whiz helping his big brother break cases. For Cary police, a little number crunching can add up to catching culprits.

"There are cases coming in everyday, whether they're robberies or fraud, and we have to make a decision how to best allocate our resources," said Wulff. "And this is a tool to help us allocate these resources."

Cary police don't apply the formula to serious crimes like homicide and rape. Such crimes are always assigned to an investigator and the department puts as much resources as possible into closing those cases.


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