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Crime In 7 Major Offense Categories At 20-Year Low In Sulphur Springs

New Record Lows Set For Home, Building Burglaries

Crime declined overall in Sulphur Springs last year, setting a new 20-year record, according to data recorded by Sulphur Springs Police Department for the seven major offense categories.

Six fewer crimes were recorded by Sulphur Springs Police Department in 2019 than in 2018. That sets the 20-year record low at 162 crimes overall in the city, according to data provided by SSPD.

In fact, last year marked the fourth consecutive year in which fewer crimes overall were recorded in the seven major reporting categories. Crimes dropped from 222 offenses in 2015 to 208 in 2016, 171 offenses in 2017, 168 offenses in 2018 and the record 162 offenses overall in 2019.

That’s less than half the 20-year record high of 371 crimes overall recorded in 2004, and far less than 1999, when a whopping 375 crimes were recorded overall in the seven major crime reporting categories. Crime overall dripped to 277 in 2005 and has below 300 offenses overall ever since. Crime overall in the city dipped below 200 for the first time in 2011, and has only been higher than 200 in three of the last nine years.

Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jason Ricketson attributes the continued decline to a lot of hard work by patrol officers and detectives, as well as their proactive approach. SSPD’s response to calls and patrolling in the community also help to serve as a deterrent for crime, especially at night.

Crime in three of the four categories of offenses against people declined in 2019. Conversely, crime rose in two of the three property crime categories. However, the decline in burglaries was enough to set a new record low, according to the SSPD data.

The next largest change was the increase in vehicle theft offenses, with small upticks reported in the number of aggravated assaults and thefts as well.

Burglaries

The most significant category change from 2018 to 2019 was the number of burglaries recorded, with 13 fewer burglaries recorded by SSPD in 2019 than one year before. The new record low of 20 burglaries recorded overall last year was less than in 2017, when the previous record low was set at 27.

This category, like the overall crime tally, has declined significantly in the last 20 years, dropping from the record high of 118 burglaries set in 2002 and repeated two years later. In fact, 2002 and 2004 were the only years in which more than 100 burglaries were recorded overall. That was cut in half in 2012, and the overall burglary tally has remained below 50 since 2014.

Only six burglaries were recorded during the first half of 2019, with February and June the worst months during those six months with two burglaries recorded in each. Of the 14 burglaries recorded during the second half of 2019, August and September were the worst months, with four burglaries recorded in each, followed by October nad December with two each, according to the SSPD data.

When burglaries peaked in 2004, SSPD began tracking home and building burglaries separately. A new record low was set in each in 2019.

Only a dozen home burglaries were recorded in 2019 by SSPD, down from the previous low of 17 set in 2017 and repeated in 2018. The most home burglary recorded by SSPD in the last 20 years was 76 in 2004.

Only eight building burglaries were recorded in 2019, half the number posted in 2018. That’s also one less building burglary in 2019 than in 2013, when the previous low was set at nine building burglaries, and only about one-fifth of the record high of 42 set in 2004.

Vehicle theft

While burglaries declined in 2019, seven more vehicles were reported to SSPD as stolen last year than the 23 recorded in 2018. That’s the most vehicle vehicle thefts recorded in the city in the last 15 years. In fact, 2019 was the first year since 2004 that more than 30 were recorded.

The 31 vehicle thefts recorded last year were still 19 less than the 20-year record high set in 2001, but 21 more than the low of 9 vehicle thefts set in 2009.

Many of the vehicle thefts recorded in 2019 were crimes of opportunity. The vehicles were left parked with keys in the ignition or in the vehicle, making them easily accessible. A lot were taken without permission on short rides, then abandoned elsewhere, the chief explained. He said in some cases vehicle thefts and vehicle burglaries corresponded, and ended with multiple arrests last year.

Theft over $200

The category with the most offenses recorded overall continues to be the theft of property with a value of more than $200 offense category. Two more thefts were recorded in 2019 than in 2018, for a total of 79 thefts overall. The low was set at 75 in 2011, with 2018 second with 77.

The 20-year record for most thefts was set at 167 thefts in 2002. In only six of the last 20 years has the total in this category been less than 100: 75 in 2001, 84 in 2012, 89 in 2014, 86 in 2017, 77 in 2018 and 79 last year.

Ricketson said this category includes all other thefts with a value of more than $200 that were not recorded in the other categories. That includes thefts such as shoplifting at businesses.

Homicide

There were no homicides recorded in 2019, down from two the year before. In fact, in only eight of the last 20 years have any homicides been reported, a record three in 2003; two each in 2001, 2015 and 2018; and one each in 2002, 2005, 2009 and 2013.

Sexual Assault

One less sexual assault was recorded in 2019 than in 2018. At five, that’s still only half the record high of 10 set in 2015, the only year in the last 20 years in which the overall number of sexual assaults was a double digit). The only year in which no sexual assaults were recorded was 2012, according to SSPD data.

Robbery

Six robberies were recorded by SSPD in 2019, three fewer than in 2018, but the same as recorded in 2004, 20015 and 20016. The 20-year record for most robberies in a single year was set at 12 in 2008; the low was set at two in 2006 and repeated in 2011.

Assault

While offenses in three of the four categories of violent crimes against people dropped, three more aggravated assaults were reported in 2019 than the 18 of 2018, which incidentally was second only to the 17 assaults of 2017 for the 20-year low. The most assaults other than simple recorded in a single year since 2000 was 44 in 2000, which was still a dozen less than in 1999.

Author: Faith Huffman

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