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How do you file a police report?

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Quick Answer

The process for filing a police report depends on the city and the type of crime. For instance, in Los Angeles, California, it is possible to report some crimes by phone, but others require an in-person report, explains the City of Los Angeles. The city website provides details about which crimes are not reportable by phone, such as arson, sexual assault, robbery, gunshots or burglary. It also helps site visitors locate a nearby precinct.

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Full Answer

The District of Columbia offers the option to file police reports online for incidents that don't require a police officer to collect information, such as theft or property damage, according to DC.gov. However, the theft category excludes financial crimes involving identity fraud. The city website publishes a list of additional conditions the incident must satisfy to qualify for online reporting. For example, the person reporting the crime must not know the identity of the suspect, the incident cannot involve injuries or witnesses, and the suspects must have left the scene. Any type of emergency requires a call to 911.

Similarly, precincts in Houston, Texas, provide online forms, but they require the public to call 911 for emergencies and crimes in progress, explains the City of Houston. Those reporting a crime can contact a local precinct or use the city's central dispatch number to report non-emergency crimes that require a police response. The online form is prohibited for crimes that involve physical evidence, and only the victim of the crime is able to use the electronic method. The online form also specifies criteria for different types of crime, such as theft up to $5,000 in value, as of 2015.

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