Area felony crimes on sharp increase
The Atascosa County Sheriff’s Department has released the crime statistics for the first six months of 2012.
According to Chief Deputy David Soward, most felony crimes are on a sharp increase. “I’ll tell you right now, we are busier than we have ever been in the past 36 years,” said Chief Soward. “Our deputies and investigators are going full speed around the clock trying to keep up with the calls and investigations,” Soward said.
The chief deputy explained that one of the issues that concern him is the decrease in patrol time by deputies. Deputies are spending a considerable amount more of their shifts answering calls which leaves less time for patrolling.
“We have contributed some of our success in the past in keeping crime down, to our intense patrol techniques. With the deputies being spread even thinner answering calls for service, our patrol time is down 30 percent,” Soward stated. The greatest increase, according to partial statistics released by the sheriff’s office, is in property crimes, primarily felony thefts and burglaries. “As always there are things the public can do to assist law enforcement. Be alert to things going on around you and report suspicious activity to our dispatch center immediately,” Soward added.
Soward asks that citizens take the time now to record serial numbers on everything they own from televisions, electronic games to guns, mowers, trailers and other equipment. Other items that aren’t serialized need to be marked with the owner’s driver’s license number, such as fishing equipment and tools. As to why the sudden surge in property crimes, the chief deputy says that in part it can be indirectly related to the oil boom.
“More people, more businesses, more construction, more equipment as well as drug usage can translate to more crime. It just stands to reason. There is more opportunity out there right now for a criminal to try and take advantage of.” Soward stated.
The chief deputy went on to explain that the increases all just didn’t occur over night, burglaries have increased around 80 percent from just six years ago. “We will continue to do our best with what we have to keep a handle on it,” he said.
Chief Soward added that the best advice to protect property from theft is to refrain from leaving equipment unattended and unprotected at construction sites and equipment yards.
“Atascosa County is still an extremely safe place to live when you look at the very low violent crime figures.”
In the statistics released, felony theft had the largest jump in the first six months of this year over the same time period last year with a 17 percent increase. There have been 109 burglaries so far this year. At that current rate, burglaries would increase 20 percent by the end of 2012. Overall, felonies are up 12 percent over the same period in 2011.
Partial statistics released for the first six months of 2012:
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