Preventing, Solving Construction Crime
According to retired law enforcement professional Lou Koven, there are two kinds of construction companies: “Those that have been a victim and those who are going to be.”
Koven’s more than 40 years of experience dealing with construction crime translates to a great perspective on what’s happening in Southern California. He spent 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he worked as a Detective, followed by another 7 years working as a private investigator and vehicle theft investigations instructor. He spent 8 years as a Special Agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau and served as a board member and Past President of the Western States Auto Theft Investigators Association’s Southern Chapter and the Crime Prevention Program of Southern California.
With such an extensive history dealing with crime in the construction industry, Koven has seen just about everything. He has experienced, first-hand, the important role CPP of SoCal fulfills as a liaison between law enforcement and the construction industry and the vital support the organization offers to support officers and agencies with investigations.
On-going training is key
Koven knows from experience that CPP of SoCal is a go-to resource and points out, “Other than the few LEOs that know this subject material, CPP is the only local source for the industry for information distribution.” Unless you happen to work in the construction industry, it’s safe to say most people have limited or minimal knowledge about heavy equipment, which can be incredibly challenging to investigate regardless of your familiarity with it. With limited training and even fewer resources for law enforcement officers, plus the intrinsic obstacles that arise when two different worlds need to communicate, it’s no wonder stolen equipment goes unreported and unrecovered.
Sometimes, construction companies don’t report crimes. While there are a lot of reasons why this happens, one is often that they don’t believe law enforcement will care. “We do care,” says Koven, “Something will be done, but you have to report it. If you don’t report it, how can we ever know?” He also affirms “[CPP of SoCal’s] layered approach works. There IS a community you can call.”
CPP of SoCal has been devoted to offering on-going support and training to law enforcement officers (LEOs) and member companies since being founded in 1984. Frequent turnover and assignment changes in both law enforcement and construction — as well as an ever-changing world — dictates the need for an established and reliable source of support. Koven shares what he knows from experience, “CPP of SoCal is the one resource to call. Victims and law enforcement alike can get on the phone and Melissa [Somers] ties them all together.”
Koven has been around long enough to see the myriad of challenges faced when investigating construction crime. Since it’s foundation, CPP of SoCal has worked with law enforcement and construction industry representatives to address the issues before they become challenges to maximize impact on crime.
Having a vast interconnected network makes all the difference. “Melissa hears about something and she relays it to all of her contacts. She’s got a big audience. They know who she is,” Koven said.
“CPP is like a funnel. The information goes in and then Melissa filters it and it comes out in a concentrated form. Melissa is truly all in.” It helps law enforcement because information gets to the right contacts in a timely matter. Plus, it’s instrumental in defining patterns because similar acts of crime can be strung together.
Proof of positive partnership
Koven conveyed real world examples of the impact CPP of SoCal has had in assisting LEOs and the impact they have on crime overall, these include:
Lost loader: A resident in Riverside called police complaining someone had left a large piece of construction equipment on her property without permission. As Koven spoke to her, she noted a CPP Reward Hotline decal. That made Koven’s job easy. “The rental company was there to pick it up before the sheriff was able to get out there,” he said. That simple sticker led to the return of a stolen $100,000 loader.
Crime ring: Jackhammers and generators were stolen from rental companies in a number of different districts: Burbank, Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley. Koven notes that one district won’t usually call another district to discuss smaller thefts. However, CPP of SoCal works as a network that connects all these smaller crimes together to reveal a pattern of similar crimes across various parts of the region. This was vital to helping break up a crime ring based in Ventura County.
The coordination of efforts by CPP and law enforcement agencies across Southern California and the region really make an impact when it comes to solving construction crime and efforts to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Join CPP SoCal to discover the great value membership adds to your organization. CPP’s long-standing dedication to support and training for both members and law enforcement translates directly to results. As Koven emphasizes, no one concentrates the time and energy to combating and preventing crime in the construction industry like CPP of SoCal, “I have never seen another organization anywhere in the country that does what CPP does.” Koven’s perspective and history of successes partnering with CPP of SoCal further affirms our motto: “Together, We Make a Difference.”
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