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pkurilla
04-02-2009, 02:06 AM
Hi, all --

My MC is a homicide detective investigating the murder of a call girl.

I know that the MC doesn't need a search warrant to search the victim's house (the house is in her name, and she lived alone). My question is -- how does he get into the house?

If the victim (who was murdered elsewhere) left the house locked and the alarm set, what procedures does the MC need to follow? Call a locksmith, notify the alarm monitoring company?

.... Break the door down? (grin)

Thanks!

BradyH1861
04-02-2009, 04:01 AM
The answer might depend on a few things. I am assuming, based on your question, that the victim was not murdered at home. In that case, I would get a search warrant for the house. The PC needed for the warrant is the fact that the owner of the house was murdered. If the victim was the sole owner of the house, consent to search might be an issue if they were dead! You might be able to claim exigent circumstances, but that would be highly dependent on the facts of the given case.

As I always say, when in doubt, get a warrant! I'm not sure what other investigators might do in the situation, so I can only speak for myself. Here we are lucky because we have PC Judges that work 24/7, so walking a warrant (arrest or search) doesn't take more than a few hours tops.

Now to answer the question that you actually asked, I would photograph the door and then force entry. But then again, that is just me.

semilargeintestine
04-02-2009, 05:50 AM
I asked my dad, who was a cop for 24 years. He agreed with Brady.

Soccer Mom
04-02-2009, 06:05 AM
Yup. If the house wasn't the crime scene: warrant.

pkurilla
04-02-2009, 06:11 AM
Thanks, all!

Assuming he forces the lock or otherwise breaks in, how does he deal with the alarm monitoring company?

BradyH1861
04-02-2009, 06:16 AM
In my city, you have to have an alarm permit to get a burglar alarm in your house. What this means is that dispatch has a list of address with burglar alarms and who those monitoring companies are. (And also the contact info for the homeowners, of course) Regardless of how you got in, if it set the alarm off I would imagine that dispatch would contact the alarm company and advise them of what was going on. I've never run into this particular issue, but it works that way in reverse. (ie: alarm company calls PD, PD dispatches officer and contacts homeowner)

pkurilla
04-02-2009, 06:21 AM
In my city, you have to have an alarm permit to get a burglar alarm in your house. What this means is that dispatch has a list of address with burglar alarms and who those monitoring companies are. (And also the contact info for the homeowners, of course) Regardless of how you got in, if it set the alarm off I would imagine that dispatch would contact the alarm company and advise them of what was going on. I've never run into this particular issue, but it works that way in reverse. (ie: alarm company calls PD, PD dispatches officer and contacts homeowner)

Thanks! Even if it's not "really" how it works, it sounds plausible enough.

RJK
04-02-2009, 05:29 PM
The hard part of the whole operation is getting the damn alarm turned off. If it's a commercial alarm company, they probably have an override code you can punch in. If it's a Radio Shack, home install, you just have to find the siren and cut the wires to stop it. By that time, you've got every kid, old lady and busy-body in the neighborhood standing on the front lawn.

JulieHowe
04-02-2009, 06:51 PM
Hi, all --

My MC is a homicide detective investigating the murder of a call girl.

I know that the MC doesn't need a search warrant to search the victim's house (the house is in her name, and she lived alone). My question is -- how does he get into the house?


Actually, your detective would most likely get a search warrant. Why? Because he's not going to be able to determine right away that the dead call girl lived alone. She might have had a roommate. Let's just say her sometime boyfriend was the one who killed her. He's probably been at her house before, even if he doesn't live there, and any evidence obtained inside her house without a search warrant might get tossed out of court later on.

If there's no emergency (she's already dead), most cops would cool their heels and wait for the search warrant.

DeleyanLee
04-02-2009, 06:55 PM
The hard part of the whole operation is getting the damn alarm turned off. If it's a commercial alarm company, they probably have an override code you can punch in. If it's a Radio Shack, home install, you just have to find the siren and cut the wires to stop it. By that time, you've got every kid, old lady and busy-body in the neighborhood standing on the front lawn.

Couple of funny stories:

1) A few years ago, friend of mine who lived in Detroit went off on vacation and asked me to check in on her pets. She gave me an access code to her alarm, the "it's really okay" password and a key. No worries, I thought.

So I show up the first day, unlock the door and I've got 30 seconds to key in the code. I do. But the code's not accepted. I try again. The code's not accepted. I try twice more and the code's not accepted. The alarm goes off, blaring throughout the house and the neighborhood (and it was a decent neighborhood, mind you) and scares the animals, except the dog (who desperately needs to do his business). I go wait by the phone for the alarm company to call and they don't.

After five minutes, the dog's going insane with his need, so I take him out (no fenced in yard, he has to be on a leash) and deal with him and all the feeding/watering/litterboxing/etc for about 25 minutes. All the time the alarm is screaming insanely into the early evening air.

I stick around for another 10 minutes, hoping that someone--anyone--will call, show up, whatever and shut this thing off. Mind you--in all that time, NOT ONE neighbor has peeked their head out the door, window, did more than glance over as they got in/out of their cars, nothing.

Finally, another friend of the friend drives up and says the alarm company called HIM to find out what's going on, and he called them on his cell phone, gave them the code and everything finally got shut off.

Seems my friend didn't register the code she'd given me with the alarm company after all, so he gave me his code and we were good for the rest of the week.

2) My ex-m-i-l had an alarm on her house with a nice fob. One day, she slipped in the snow coming in from her car and broke her leg. She got the fob, set off the house alarm so it blared. Again, not a single neighbor looked out to see her collapsed on the front walk. She laid in the snow for the 40 minutes it took for the cops to get there.

Those experiences pretty much has killed my expectations of neighbors (or even cops) caring a whit about a house alarm.

dirtsider
04-02-2009, 06:56 PM
If the victim is murdered elsewhere, I would think that the MC, being a detective, would have access to a locksmith through the department for just this sort of situation. Or he would be able to jimmy the lock himself once he got the warrant.

But if the house has an alarm system, it would depend on whether or not it's a commercial system or a private, Radio-Shack-esque one. If it's commercial system, the company usually has some sort of sticker or lawn sign on the house stating which company is monitoring the house. The MC would probably have the time to track this info down while waiting for the warrent to come through. Then the MC would then be able to call the company, state the address and have them put the house on 'test' or otherwise disable it. I never had to handle that sort of situation when I worked for an alarm company but we did put systems on test when the techs were out there doing service.

I would also think that if the house was monitored by a commercial alarm company, someone in the police dispatch department would have records of it if the alarm system ever went off, either as a burglar alarm or a panic alarm. (There's different procedures for that.) This would also give the MC some leads via the alarm company and/or dispatch records.