The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Property crimes on the rise in Newton

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  • Property crime such as burglaries and theft are on the rise Newton and in Harvey County, according to statistics kept by the local law enforcement agencies.?There could be a lot of reasons for that, Police Chief Jim Daily said. Itís also possible by yearís end, there wonít be as big of an increase as there appears.?By the end of July there had been more burglaries and criminal damage cases in Newton than there had been in all of last year. Thefts were nearly at last yearís level by the end of July.?Daily said property crimes do seem to be rising, but also said those types of crime tend to slow down.?Detective Eric Murphy said the overall caseload has not changed much over last year.?According to Newton Police statistics, there was peak in the crime statistics in 2008, and it dropped slightly in 2009. The drop was more dramatic in 2010 and 2011. If current trends hold Newton would be back at the 2008 level by the end of the year.?There were 745 thefts in 2008 in Newton, and 517 in 2011. As of the end of July there had been 422, and if that trend continues, there would be 723 this year.?Criminal damage to property is also up. There were 288 cases in 2008, and 205 in 2011. By the end of July there were 205, and if that continues there would be 350 by yearís end.?The same trend is true in burglaries in the city. In 2008 there were 216 burglaries and in 2011 there were 118. By the end of July there were 140 burglaries reported in the city, which would result in 240 by the end of the year if trends continue.?There was not a significant increase in other crimes such as driving under the influence or battery cases.?It is hard to predict when crime will increase, Daily said.?When they notice crime going up in an area, or a certain type of item being targeted, they can step up patrols in those areas. Sometimes they do surveillance in unmarked vehicles.?There are more thefts or burglaries in residential areas than in business areas.?Murphy said at this point there is not a specific area or specific item that is being targeted.?"That makes it a little more difficult," he said.?The best thing people can do is take action to protect their property.?"A lot of crimes are based on opportunity. People need to secure their belongings. Take things into your house or put them in the trunk. Donít leave them out where they are visible," he said.?Daily added that even having your car locked might not be a deterrent if someone can see a valuable item and no one is around.?That may be a reason why there is more crime in the summer. People are out more and perhaps a little more casual about locking doors, Murphy said.?The overall economy and drug activity could be making people more likely to steal something if it is something that could be easily taken.?Daily said he likes to keep police cars out patrolling to keep a high profile for the police.?"People are less likely to commit a crime if they see a police car," he said. But budget restraints and higher gas prices can effect how much patrolling they can do.
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