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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Crime on the rise in Harvey County 

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  • ?Harvey County sheriff T. Walton said crime is going up in the unincorporated areas of the county, especially crimes related to theft of property.?He has seen increases just as the city of Newton has, but not as dramatic.?Walton said the increase in burglaries and thefts are likely due to the poor economy and many cases are drug related. Walton added that there have been more domestic violence cases as well and that too could be related to a poor economy.?“People are without jobs. Often alcohol or drugs are involved as well,” he said concerning the rise in battery cases.?Like most places, most thefts are based on opportunity, and with all the open spaces out in the rural areas, it makes theft easier.?It is a different dynamic than in the city. Newton has nearly 20,000 people in a fairly small area. There are around 8,000 people in the unincorporated areas over a much larger area for the sheriff to keep up with.?The sheriff’s department also helps cities in the county when called upon.?Property crimes took a slight dip in 2011 as compared to 2010, but seem to be on the way back up.?As of the end of July there had been 73 theft cases in the county, and if that trend holds, that could mean 125 by the end of the year. There were 99 of those last year.?There were 41 burglaries by the end of July, which puts the county on a pace to have 70 by the end of the year, compared to 48 last year.?There have been 57 criminal damage cases through July, and that would put the county on a pace to have 97 by year’s end, compared to 62 last year. Property crime is generally a matter of opportunity, and with all the space available, it may be easier for a crook to target someone for a theft or burglary.?Walton said people should keep their buildings locked and garage doors closed.?“People think they are out in the county and their property is safe because no one is around,” Walton said. “But there are people cruising around looking for property to steal.”?Walton encourages people to report any crime, and to report any suspicious activity.?He said if people see a car they are not familiar with parked, or driving around slowly, they should report it.?“People need to let us know, it may be fine, but we will check to make sure.” He said.?The sheriff also recently got a grant that has given them a thermal imaging camera, and that may help with investigating property crimes, as well.?“We can tell if a car has been running, if the engine is still hot, with that camera,” he said. “It is another tool for us to use.”?Walton said going to a special quadrant type patrol, or dividing the county up, has helped them keep up with what is going on in the county.?Still the best tool is the eyes and ears of people in the county, who can help keep law enforcement officials aware of what is going on.
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