On Thursday night, all was quiet in Charlie Sector. I was riding with Jared, who was coming up to the end of his first year as an APD officer. I'd guess this was my fourth or fifth time riding with him, he's highly regarded by the two Sergeants he's worked under. I got to see why.
We were coming back from a nothing call when a new message popped up. Burglary in progress, and pretty close to where we were. The normal protocol for that is to hit the lights and sirens (aka "running code") until we're close, then shut off the siren (and sometimes lights) in the hope of catching the burglers in the act.
Jared checked the computer for the most recent update and hit the accelerator, but not the lights and sirens. After a couple of streets I asked if he was going to put them on, as we weren't particularly close to the house being burgled. Then I looked at the computer myself, the call text, and saw that the 911 caller (the victim) had chased the bad guys out of his house, struggled with one of them, and the two intruders had sped off.
Jared, basically a rookie, had taken an indirect route to the house, driving fast but quietly, because he was trying to head off the home-invaders. On the map, we could see the house was close to MLK Blvd and I-35.
"If you're fleeing from a crime you've committed, you want to hit the nearest highway to put some distance between you and the cops," he said. And putting the lights and sirens on would make sure they put more distance between us and them. Smart guy, and quick-thinking.
We didn't spot the dark van we were looking for, so we went to the house and were first on scene. We were met by a slightly dazed and bloodied victim. He was a young man who'd come to UT to study, from Taiwan, and only been here three months. He told us he'd been taking a nap when he woke up to the sound of people in his house. He ran into the living room and saw one person, and chased him out. They fought in the front yard until the bad guy said he had a knife, at which point the victim (intelligently) backed off. I could see pieces of his property strewn about the yard, including a large, flat-screen TV lying face down and broken on the driveway.
Two more patrol units arrived in the alley that runs in front of the house. They played flashlights over the grass and the alley to look for more property.
Suddenly, where was a noise on the other side of the chain-link fence, just yards from where we were standing. Three flashlights trained on the area and there, staring right back at us, was a miniature pony.
"Well," I said. "There's your eye witness. Anyone speak horse?"
East Austin. You never know what you're going to get.
EMS arrived to treat the victim, who had been remarkably stoic throughout the ordeal, and the crime scene unit came to take DNA samples in case any part of the bad guys stuck to him. As of the end of the shift, though, the two criminals who'd invaded the poor man's home were free and clear.