Statistics: Burglaries up

Argen Duncan

The city of Portales saw an above-normal number of burglaries in 2010, but a significant decrease in DWI cases, according to city Police Department statistics.

“We did have an increase in several areas,” said Portales Police Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry, adding officers had been busy.

However, Berry said the rates of solved cases were good.

Last year, 165 burglaries were reported, the highest number in at least six years, according to department annual reports. The number was up 41 cases compared to 2009.

Berry said police saw a few burglaries at the beginning of the year, more in the middle of the year and a drop in the crime near the end of 2010. That’s an unusual pattern.

“Typically, in the holidays, burglaries go up,” Berry said. “This year (2010), they didn’t.”

As for DWI, cases decreased from 55 in 2009 to 33 in 2010, the lowest number in at least six years, according to police statistics.

Berry said DWI cases have been dropping statewide, and establishments in Portales work with patrons to ensure they have designated drivers.

“It’s just effective measures of enforcement and education to reduce the numbers,” he said.

For rape, reports more than doubled from six in 2009 to 15 in 2010, according to the annual report.

Of those 15, Berry said, arrests had been made in four, seven were unsubstantiated, two were awaiting lab results, one was referred to another jurisdiction and one couldn’t be prosecuted due to lack of evidence.

On another topic, assault reports increased from 177 in 2009 to 204 in 2010.

“That’s really hard to put a number on what causes that to go up,” Berry said.

He said most cases are resolved immediately.

Murder and robbery cases remained static, with one murder case and three robbery cases in both 2009 and 2010.

“That’s not a bad number with three robberies for the year,” Berry said.

Of those cases, he said, one has been resolved, one has a suspect but no arrest, and there are no leads on the third, which was very well-planned. On the third case, Portales police are looking for robberies done with a similar method in other communities in hopes of finding a link.

For murder, Berry said it’s hard to bring those cases to zero because police can’t predict when they’ll happen and so can’t be there to stop it. The most important thing is to solve them when they occur, he said.

“We just can’t leave an unresolved murder,” Berry said.

On another subject, cases of larceny, theft of anything of value, dropped from 201 in 2009 to 165 in 2010, according to the annual report. Berry said there’s no definite explanation of why, although he offered a possible contributing factor.

“Sometimes when you have a lot of burglaries, people become more aware,” he said.

After hearing about thefts, Berry said, people may be more cautious to secure their property and therefore be less likely to lose something to a crime of opportunity.

In vehicle thefts, police statistics show cases rose from 10 in 2009 to 14 in 2010. However, the rate remained lower than in 2006-2008, which had motor vehicle theft numbers in the 20s.

Berry said police are fairly successful at solving the cases, especially since the victim has a suspect in mind most of the time.

“It’s rare that they don’t,” he said.

In most cases, the car thief doesn’t leave town with the vehicle, Berry said. Often, he said, the person has used the car before but been denied permission to borrow it again, but takes the vehicle anyway, thinking to return it before the owner notices or feeling he or she has a right to it.