Crimes can be reported online

Atascadero residents can now file crime reports for minor offenses such as vandalism and lost property online with the Atascadero Police Department.

The new service, launched Tuesday, is linked directly to the police department through the city’s Web site.

The goal of the new program is to streamline the reporting process and give patrol officers more time on the streets, Chief Jim Mulhall said.

Paso Robles Police Department implemented the same online reporting program last year and now receives about 100 reports on the Web site each month, Police Chief Lisa Solomon said.

Crimes that can be reported online include lost property, identity theft, vehicle burglary, vandalism, hit and run collisions, harassing phone calls, custody visitation order violations and suspicious circumstances.

Crimes that are in progress or involve a known suspect must still be filed through a police officer interview.

The new online reporting system is voluntary — residents can still request a direct interview with a patrol officer.

The department has 20 patrol officers on staff who typically respond to such calls in person to conduct interviews and fill out a crime report.

“We want to eliminate any delay in officers responding to lower priority calls,” Police Chief Jim Mulhall said. “It saves patrol officers from responding to some of the more minor offenses and allows them to focus on critical calls.”

The new system will cost the department $2,400 annually.

Mulhall said the department will use the new system to better understand criminal activity in specific areas of the city.

“Our hope (is) that folks who would normally not report a minor offense to us because it is inconvenient to them will now do it — giving us a more realistic picture of where these crimes are occurring in our city,” Mulhall said.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939.

To report online

To report a minor crime online, visit www.atascadero.org and click on Report a Crime. Complete the crime report by following the step-by-step directions. Once submitted, a copy of the report is e-mailed to the reporting party. It will then be reviewed by the police department, and a notification that the report is ready to view or print will be sent by e-mail within a 12-hour period.