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New Year Ushers In Crime Wave
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Although the actual New Year's holiday was relatively quiet and uneventful, the first few days of the New Year brought with it an unexpected jump in crime.

A rash of vehicle burglaries were reported early morning Friday, Jan. 2, according to police reports. Between 5:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., officers responded to four separate calls of vehicle break-ins, in areas including Genevieve Drive, Adriana Way, Tamara Court and California Street.

"What we're going to do is put extra officers on nighttime patrol," Escalon Police Chief Doug Dunford said of responding to the incidents.

Speculation is that the burglaries were committed by someone passing through the area so Dunford said the department will also be stepping up its vehicle stops.

"The foggy weather is when we usually get hit," he added of burglars stalking the community.

As far as the holiday, Dunford said there were only a couple of calls on New Year's Eve, with a few complaints of loud music and parties and one call regarding fireworks or a possible gunshot heard prior to the new year.

"Everything else was fairly uneventful," Dunford said.

One vehicle theft was reported on New Year's Day, a green Chevy Blazer taken, with officers also making a couple of traffic stops after receiving calls of suspected drunk drivers. Neither driver, however, was intoxicated.

Meanwhile, Dunford is preparing his yearly statistics, which will be presented to members of the Escalon City Council at a meeting later this month.

"We had more than 12,100 incidents," Dunford said. "That's the busiest we've been since 2005."

Preliminary review shows a two percent increase in the overall crime rate for the city from 2007 to 2008, though final figures are still being tallied.

Dunford said December seemed to be a good month for the city, with residents heeding the department's call to keep vehicles locked, any holiday packages locked in the trunk or out of sight in the car, as well as keeping valuables out of sight at home and keeping garages locked.

"The citizens should be commended," Dunford agreed. "They did an excellent job, our officers found very few cars and garages open."

The good feeling in December, however, gave way to the rash of incidents in January.

"I don't know if we relaxed or what," Dunford said. "But we got hit."

The department will redouble its efforts and increase patrols, with night and foggy conditions being the highest enforcements periods.

Officers are also completing their Taser training and, as of Jan. 1, no officers are on probation, with all completing their required field training and probationary periods.