The “reportable crimes” for calendar year 2020 in Escalon were 205, up from 203 recorded in 2019. That equates to just a one percent overall hike in the crime rate and though there were a few categories that saw big jumps, the overall rate stayed relatively flat.
Now-retired Police Chief Mike Borges was at the helm through the first six months of 2020, with current Chief Rob Lackey in charge over the last six months. Lackey presented the year-end statistics to Escalon City Council members earlier this month.
As far as the numbers, the categories recorded were Murder, Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Burglary, Larceny, Stolen Vehicle and Arson.
There were no murders in the city in either 2019 or 2020 but the reported rapes went from one in 2019 to three in 2020, accounting for a 200 percent increase.
“The shocker to me was the rape category,” admitted Chief Lackey.
He said the investigation is continuing into some of those cases so whether there will be formal charges filed is still an unknown. He and Borges also said domestic disturbance calls around the community seemed to be on the rise during 2020 as well.
“I’m thinking maybe the pandemic, quarantine, people spending more time at home and not really having an outlet,” noted Lackey.
Robberies jumped from zero in 2019 to three in 2020; while aggravated assaults were up 33 percent from 12 to 16 from year to year. The simple assault rate went down, from 53 cases in 2019 to 45 in 2020, a 15 percent drop.
In the burglary category, there were 32 reported in 2020, up 28 percent from the 25 in 2019.
However, larceny saw a 16 percent drop, from 105 cases in 2019 to 88 in 2020.
There were a total of 18 stolen vehicle reports in 2020, a 157 percent rise from the seven reported in 2019.
And the city had one reported case of arson in 2020, while there were none reported in 2019.
“For the aggravated assaults, that very often is an argument that turns into fisticuffs, many times afterward no one wants anything done,” Lackey said.
“When you see an aggravated assault, it could be a bar fight,” agreed Borges.
Assaults can also cover domestic incidents and gang fights.
“Nationwide, felonies and serious crimes were up,” Borges added of the trend seen in 2020.
As far as stolen vehicles, both the past and current chiefs said often it is a case of repeat offenders, seizing opportunities to steal an accessible vehicle to get from here to there.
And Borges, who spent several years in the Ceres Police Department before accepting the chief position in Escalon, said it wasn’t unusual to have 18 stolen vehicles in Ceres over the course of a couple of weeks, as opposed to 18 in Escalon for an entire year.
“We’re up one percent,” Lackey said, noting that the goal is always to see crime trending downward, but given the COVID situation that took hold last March, he is pleased that the rate was up by so little. “It’s an unfortunate rise but we’re doing good.”
The current chief also said members of the Escalon community are good about reporting suspicious activity in their neighborhoods and that the partnership between residents and police is extremely beneficial.
“Property crimes are also things that need to be reported, not just for tracking but for knowledge, so my officers know where there are problems,” Lackey explained. “Escalon, in general, works as one great big Neighborhood Watch. I love Escalon residents; they do not hesitate to share information with us that will help us out.”