Glenwood sees drop in most serious crimes
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Serious crimes in this busy resort town are mostly down, a trend that reflects a similar drop statewide.But in unincorporated Garfield County, that trend did not hold, Colorado Bureau of Investigation statistics show. Glenwood SpringsThe major crimes of homicide, rape, robbery, burglary and vehicle theft, all were down in Colorado from 2002 to 2003. In Glenwood Springs, all crimes except burglary decreased in the same time period. “I think overall our crime is down somewhat,” Glenwood Springs police Lt. Bill Kimminau said. “Calls for service seem to be up, but in general the trend seems to be that our crime is down a little bit.”Homicides were down 100 percent from 2002 to 2003. There was one homicide in 2002 – the still-unsolved shooting death of Tom Lubchenco at the Glenwood Springs Wal-Mart in June 2002 – and none in 2003. The number of rapes in Glenwood Springs stayed level between 2002 and 2003, at 11. Robberies showed the largest percentage drop, from seven in 2002 to just three in 2003, a decline of 133 percent.”We generally don’t see that many robberies here,” Kimminau said. Vehicle thefts in Glenwood Springs were also down from 22 in 2002 to 19 in 2003, a decline of 15.8 percent. Of the major crimes, burglaries were the only crimes to increase during the two-year span. There were 73 burglaries in 2002 and 83 in 2003, an increase of 13.7 percent. Kimminau said several factors can affect an area’s crime rate. “I’ve always been told a lot of it is the economy,” he said. “When it’s up, people don’t steal as much. Also, being a tourism town, a lot of the crimes are thefts. … I think a lot of it is economy-driven, plus I would hope we’re doing our jobs better; you can never tell.”Unincorporated Garfield CountyIn the unincorporated parts of Garfield County, murder, rape and robbery either stayed the same or went down slightly, but burglaries and vehicle thefts both skyrocketed over the two-year period. Burglaries were up 214 percent, jumping from 35 to 110 in one year.The number of vehicle thefts also jumped, rising 175 percent from 2002 to 2003. Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario did not return phone calls seeking comment on the CBI statistics.StatewideStatewide, major crimes fell for the first time in four years in 2003, despite a rise in robberies, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.Robbery cases were up nearly 4 percent, but major crimes as a whole were down 2.9 percent over 2003 to fall to 55,548, according to the CBI’s “Crime in Colorado 2003″ report. The drop came after such crimes surged more than 10 percent in 2002.All of the five serious crimes decreased last year, the CBI report said.When adjusted for population growth, crime in the state fell more than 4 percent, the report said.”It’s good news. We can only hope it would become a trend,” said Joseph Sandoval, a criminology professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver. “But one year doesn’t make a trend. Let’s see what happens in two or three years.”CBI Deputy Director Bob Armstrong credited residents, perhaps spurred by homeland security concerns, and community policing programs for lowering the number of crimes.”Being vigilant is paying dividends because we’re seeing a decrease in crimes in Colorado,” Armstrong said.Nationally, crime also dipped slightly last year, according to a recent FBI report. Violent crime dropped 3.2 percent and property crime fell 0.1 percent nationwide in 2003, the report said.Reasons are difficult to pinpoint, authorities and academics said, but an improving economy and more prison sentences for repeat and violent offenders may have been factors.”Overcrowded prisons and jails bulging at the seams may suggest there would be a lower crime rate especially among the serious categories,” Sandoval said. “And this improving economy may also have an effect on the crime rate.”However, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, said population growth and substance abuse have led to a slight increase in overall crime in northern Colorado.He said aggressive police work, incarcerating criminals and an improving economy can help lower crime rates.”As the economy improves, we typically see less crime. When people are out of work, there’s more alcohol abuse, more substance abuse and more domestic violence,” Alderden said.Prosecutors also believe tough sentences have an effect, said Peter Weir, executive director of the Colorado District Attorneys Council.”They feel there is a correlation between punishment and a reduction in crime. Sentences are a deterrent,” Weir said. “If those people are locked up, they’re not in a position to commit further crimes.”- Associated Press contributed to this report.Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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