The year in crime features Payson’s first homicide in years, an uptick in vehicle burglaries and a slight rise in the town’s overall crime rate, according to figures just released by the police department.
The number of violent and property crimes increased 3 percent from 2011 to 2012, thanks largely to 46 more burglaries and one murder-suicide in early December, according to the Payson Police Department’s recently released annual report.
“This increase (in burglaries) was recognized in the late fall and early winter months of 2012, where the department was seeing an increase in vehicular burglaries within the community,” wrote Police Chief Don Engler in the report. “Fortunately, the dollar losses in these burglaries were not exorbitant.”
While burglaries rose, nearly every other crime dropped slightly in 2012, including thefts, rapes, assaults and motor vehicle thefts.
Most surprisingly, however, domestic violence cases and arrests dropped sharply.
Officers made 18 percent fewer domestic violence arrests with 35 percent few cases reported to police.
The Roundup will delve deeper into domestic violence statistics Tuesday and the department’s ongoing personnel shortage on Friday, April 5.
Despite the decline in crime categories, the area’s overall crime rate increased from 2011, going from 42.8 crimes per 1,000 residents to 43.1. This is still lower than the 43.5 index crime rate in 2010.
Nationally, preliminary figures indicate that violent crimes increased 2 percent for the first six months of 2012 compared with the same time in 2011, according to the FBI’s Web site. In addition, figures for 2012 indicate that arson increased 3.2 percent compared to 2011. In Payson, arson rarely occurs. The last known case was in 2010.
That isn’t to say property crimes are not a growing concern. Police have not yet arrested anyone for a rash of burglaries in the latter part of 2012.
For several months, thieves targeted unsecured vehicles, although they mostly took usually items of minimal value, Engler said.
Engler said the increase in property crimes reflects rising drug use in the area.
Engler said the narcotics division has an ongoing battle against the use of methamphetamine in the community. While the drug has plagued Payson for years, heroin has made a resurgence.
Police investigated several reported heroin overdoses last year, but none proved fatal thanks to medical intervention, Engler said.
The number of calls the department investigated continued its dramatic drop last year. In part, that reflects a decline in the number of officers on the streets making impromptu stops.
The agency handled 20,030 calls in 2012, 926 fewer than 2011 and 8,229 fewer than 2010.
Engler said the department has been “very short” on patrol personnel, who often generate calls while on duty.
It is expected that once the Payson Police Department is at full staff, the calls for service will meet or exceed the 2011 totals,” he said.