A rash of Payson vehicle burglaries in October helped crown 2012 the worst year for vehicle and home burglaries in years.
Preliminary numbers indicate burglaries went up 32 percent in 2012 from 2011. Burglaries in the last few weeks of December aren’t even included in that tally.
In all, burglaries continued their upward trend last year, peaking in October with 13 vehicle burglaries.
Police Chief Don Engler said nearly all of the vehicles burglarized last year were either unlocked or unsecured. The thieves forced their way in only three times, the rest simply took advantage of careless owners.
While no one has been arrested for the wave of October vehicle break-ins, Engler believes the same individual or group is responsible. He said detectives have developed a number of leads, and even collected some of the stolen property, and expects an arrest.
While vehicle break-ins swelled in October, home burglaries hit the high watermark of 17 last January.
ngler said that is likely because thieves target second homes empty during the winter months.
Police generally see an increase in thefts and burglaries in the winter months.
Engler said these crimes frequently indicate the severity of drug use in the community because thieves often steal to fund a drug addiction.
Last year is no exception. For the first time in many years, police saw a dramatic increase in heroin use. Meth and prescription drug use also remains high.
With a slew of new officers set to join the force in late 2013, Engler said he planned to devote more officers to the drug task force. Right now, only one Payson officer is assigned to it, working with two drug officers from the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.
While burglaries generally increased throughout the community, mapping software indicates most vehicle burglaries (shown as red dots on the map above) occurred west of the Beeline Highway. Home burglaries (represented by blue dots on the map) were pretty well spread out around town. Only the neighborhoods around the town’s three golf courses seemed immune. Chaparral Pines, The Rim Club and the neighborhood around Payson Golf Course all had either none or only one reported burglary. Those areas have some of the most expensive homes in Payson and gates protect two.
Only a few addresses suffered more than one burglary during the year.