Not only was crime down overall in the seven major crime reporting categories in Sulphur Springs during the first 6 months of 2021, but a new 22-year record Jan. 1-June 30 low was set for the city, according to data recorded by Sulphur Springs Police Department.
That’s 31 less offenses recorded during the first half of 2021 than the 93 reported for the same period in 2020 and 2018, and five fewer total offenses than the record low of 67 offenses reported for Jan. 1-June 30, 2019. The 62 offenses recorded by SSPD during the first six months of 2021 is still only about a third of the record high of 181 crimes reported from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2004. The total number of crimes reported to SSPD in the seven major offense categories has only been below 100 during seven of the last 22 years: 95 crimes in 2011, 81 in 2021, 72 in 2017, 93 in 2018 and 2020, 67 in 2019 and 62 in 2021.
Crime in Sulphur Springs declined or matched the 2020 first half totals in every category except one — burglaries, which was still lower than in 18 of the past 22 years. From Jan. 1 to June 30, 2021, 14 burglaries were recorded by SSPD, only two more than during the first six months of 2017, six more than in the first half of 2020 and 8 more than the record low of 6 burglaries recorded from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2019. That’s still 56 less than the record of 70 burglaries recorded in 2004, the first year SSPD began tracking and reporting home and building separately.
Only one more home burglary was recorded in the first half of 2021 than the four recorded during the same period of 2020 and only two more than the record low of three burglaries of habitation reported in 2018 and repeated in 2019. The most home burglaries reported during the first half of the year was 47 in 2004, followed by the 31 home burglaries recorded in 2012.
Building burglaries more than doubled from four during the first 6 months of 2020 to nine in the first half of 2021, and is three times the record low of three building burglaries recorded for the first half of 2019. That’s still 2.5 times less than the record of 23 building burglaries recorded in 2004.
Thefts of property with a value over $200 were down, from 44 in 2020 to 28 in 2021, setting a new 22-year record low for this category. Previously, the least number of thefts reported during the first half of the year was previously 32, set in 2019. The most thefts from Jan. 1-June 30 was 86, recorded by SSPD in 2006.
Seven less vehicles were reported to police as stolen in the first 6 months of 2021 than the 19 reported in 2020. The 12 vehicle thefts reported to SSPD in 2021 was still less than half the record of 25 reported in 2001 and repeated in 2003.
Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jason Ricketson attributed the decrease in vehicle thefts to the proactive efforts of patrol officers, especially those working the night shift in the city. Officers’ efforts helped break up a couple of burglary rings.
Ricketson noted that for several years, many vehicle thefts could have been prevented had the residents locked their vehicles and taken their keys and valuables with them. Many of the more recent vehicle burglaries and thefts over the last year, Ricketson noted, were due in part because vehicles were left unlocked with keys and valuables inside of them, making them easy picking for burglars who walk along a street or parking lot checking doors and entering those left unlocked.
“A lot of the vehicle thefts were of unlocked vehicles with the keys in them. Do not be a victim. Lock your cars and vehicles. It’s important to take your valuables and keep them with you every night. This is happening not just to us but to other departments and cities too,” the police chief said.
Burglaries and thefts, Ricketson noted, are also likely due in part to COVID-19. Some thefts reported at businesses or burglaries of closed businesses are due to individuals’ limited or lack of income over an extended period of time due to closures of and reductions in staffing at some businesses as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and impact. People being unemployed for months likely contributed to thefts and burglaries.
For the third year in a row, four sexual assault have been reported to SSPD during the first six months of the year. That’s only a third of the record high of 12 sexual assaults reported in 2013, which was the only year a double digit total was reported in this category. There were no sexual assaults recorded during the first 6 months of 2002, 2011 and 2012.
There were no homicides nor any robberies recorded by SSPD during the first 6 months of 2021. That’s down from the record high of three homicides (murder) recorded from January through June of 2020. In fact, in only five of the last 22 years were any murders reported during the first 6 months of the year: two in 2003; and one each in 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2018. Robberies declined from three reported from Jan. 1 to June 30 of 2018, 2019 and 2020. The most robberies reported during the first six months of the year since 2000 was seven in 2000. There were no robberies during the first half of 2014 either.
Four aggravated assault cases were recorded during the first half of 2021, tying 2013 for the fewest number of assaults other than simple reported to SSPD. That’s only a third of the number of aggravated assaults reported in 2020 and only one-fifth of the record of 20 aggravated assaults recorded by SSPD during the first half of 2000 and 2001.