Make your safety a priority, be observant and do not waste a second before calling the police.
This is the fundamental advice local law enforcement officers are urging community members to heed if they encounter an armed robber.
Local law enforcement is issuing the safety reminder on the heels of four reported robberies in nine days in La Grande. The most recent incidents occurred Monday night on Spruce Street and at Little Caesars Pizza on Walton Road.
“Avoid putting yourself at risk,” said Lt. Derick Reddington of the La Grande Police Department.
This means doing what the robber asks you to do.
“If you comply with the demands (of the robber), that will go a long way in terms of your personal safety,” he said.
Once a victim escapes to safety, he or she should call the police immediately to give them the optimum opportunity to apprehend the robber.
“The longer the delay (in reporting the robbery), the less chance of catching (the individual responsible). Every minute is critical,” Reddington said.
Victims are urged to provide police with anything unique about the individual who committed the crime, including details about any vehicles involved.
“Be a good witness,” said Sgt. Kyle Hove of the Oregon State Police.
Jason Stone, also an OSP sergeant, agreed.
“You should absorb as much detail as you can,” he said.
Hove and Stone said people should make note of mannerisms, speech patterns and appearance features such as moles, scars, hair and eye color. Making mental notes of the robber’s vehicle is also useful. Stone said that providing police with the make, model and color and license plate is very helpful.
The license plate number may seem to be more important than anything else in identifying a vehicle, but this is not always the case. Stone explained that criminals will sometimes switch license plates on their vehicle after committing a crime.
He added that it is also important to remember the direction in which the robber arrived and left the scene.
Stone said it is critical to record or make note of all the details you can remember immediately after an incident. He explained that because of adrenaline, people who have been the victims of a robbery may be prone to quickly forget important details.
Hove noted that being provided only generic information about a suspect and his or her vehicle can make for a frustrating situation.
“Sometimes all people may remember about a vehicle (for instance) is that it was a white pickup and was being driven erratically,” Hove said. “Then I might see six white pickups in the area and I’m trying to determine which one is being driven erratically.”
He stressed, however, that in an effort to be a good witness one should never delay getting to safety.
Individuals can reduce the odds of being robbed by not going out alone.
“Stay in pairs or walk with a group,” Hove said.