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City Crime Rate Rises
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Statistics for the year show an increase in burglary, larceny, stolen vehicles and assaults from 2010 to 2011, accounting for an overall 48 percent rise in the number of Part I crimes in the City of Escalon.

Police Chief Jim Shaw said the percentage is a bit deceiving, since the city deals in relatively small numbers of crime cases, so even a slight change one way or the other can make a big difference in the overall percentage.

But the fact that there are more recorded cases is reason for some concern and has prompted at least once city council member to take action. (See related story.)

"What we see is that in rape, robbery, homicide, the really, really critical areas, there have been none," Shaw said of the 2011 statistics.

The city has not had a homicide for the last several years. Rapes were down to zero from three reported last year, there were also no robberies, as opposed to one in 2010.

The statistics that did increase were assaults, with 17 aggravated assaults, up from 12 (42 percent increase) and simple assaults, up to 94 reported cases from 70 in 2010 (34 percent increase).

"We also had a lot more burglaries, and a lot of those were automobiles, a lot of cars are being broken into," Shaw explained.

People leaving valuables in sight in their car provide a target for thieves, and Shaw said residents can help by being proactive, making sure to lock their cars and not leave anything of value in sight in the vehicle.

"We also had a spate of commercial burglaries, which we cleared up," he said of making an arrest that cleared several cases.

There were a total of 393 reported Part I crimes for the city in 2011, with burglary by far the biggest jump, up to 80 cases from 53, a 68 percent rise. Larceny rose 57 percent, to 174 cases from 111 and the city saw 19 stolen vehicles for the year, a 27 percent increase from the 15 taken in 2010. The Part I crimes in 2010 totaled 265.

"A lot of those stolen vehicles are being recovered, in many cases they are more a joy ride or a transport than a strip job or headed to a chop shop," Shaw said.

Police officers made a total of 265 arrests for the year, up from 231 in 2010.

"Bear in mind we were down officers," Shaw said, noting that he feels those on the job were efficient and did thorough investigations of cases, leading to the higher arrest rate.

Domestic violence cases were also up, he said, which many authorities attribute to additional family and financial stresses.

"Domestic violence doesn't have to have great bodily injury," he added.

But arrests are typically made in those cases, even if it is later pleaded down.

Shaw said the city has benefited from a partnership with CrimeStoppers and he is also an advocate of citizens getting involved.

"We want that good cooperation between officers and citizens," he agreed. "We still have one officer out injured, we picked up a grant position so we've maintained our numbers. We're mandated to have two officers on a shift and we're using reserves more frequently as well."

Figures released by the department show the greatest number of arrests, 22, were made on suspicion of driving under the influence and 18 more were for public intoxication. There were also a number of drug and vandalism arrests.

The department also introduced video cameras in police vehicles this year, able to video officers responding to incidents, with a recent pursuit from Escalon into Riverbank caught on tape.

Shaw said the cameras are good in two ways, for providing evidence on behalf of the department in cases and insuring that the officers following proper procedures and are accountable for their actions.

"It has been good for us," Shaw said.

In 2012, the goal will be to work closely with the public on ways they can help protect themselves while also aiming to reduce the crimes committed in the city, Shaw said.