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Crime continues decline in South Jeffco

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By AJ Vicens

Crime has been steadily declining in South Jefferson County over the last few years, and that trend largely continued in the second half of 2008.

Both serious and less-serious categories of crime have decreased in South Jeffco since 2004, when there were 4,475 “part 1,” or serious, crimes reported. That same year there were 7,437 less-serious, or “part 2,” crimes. In 2008, those numbers had fallen to 3,317 and 5,708, respectively.

Part 1 crimes include homicides, kidnappings and assaults. Part 2 crimes include trespassing, drug violations and resisting arrest.

A closer look at the second half of 2008 provides greater detail.

For instance, in July, August and September there were 580 thefts in South Jeffco. In October, November and December, that number fell to 487, a drop of 16 percent. Unlawful sexual behavior, however, went up by more than 50 percent between the third and fourth quarter of 2008. There were 35 charges of unlawful sexual behavior in October, November and December 2008, compared to 22 for the previous three months.

The only other part 1 crimes that increased between the third and fourth quarters of 2008 were arson and robbery. There were nine reported arsons between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2008, compared to four in July, August and September. There were five robberies in South Jeffco in the last three months of 2008, compared to two in July, August and September.

There were 108 burglaries in July, August and September 2008, compared to 68 in the last three months of the year, a drop of nearly 40 percent.

‘Part 2’ crimes

There were 822 part 2 crimes in the last three months of 2008, compared to 916 in July, August and September. Every part 2 crime declined in that time period, except "family" crimes. There were 73 family crimes in July, August and September 2008, and 73 in the last three months of the year.

Jeffco Sheriff Ted Mink credits his staff for being more proactive as the reason for the drop in crime since 2004. He said the sheriff's captains are doing a better job of recognizing trends in their areas and applying resources accordingly.

Mink added, though, that if the economy continues to decline, some types of crime will increase.

"There's always a correlation between the economy and crime," Mink said. A declining economic situation will lead to more ID theft, he said, and more crimes involving stolen credit cards.

"We have to adapt, improve and overcome," Mink said.

Another hurdle to overcome with a bad economy is less funding for the sheriff’s office.

"That's where creativity comes in," Mink said. "Dealing with violent crime is at the top of the list, and then it goes down from there."

Mink said his staff is focusing more on crime prevention and educating the community. He has deputies attend HOA meetings to talk about crime trends in certain areas, and has increased traffic patrols in high-crime areas.

"There's a connection between increased traffic enforcement and a reduction in crime," Mink said, adding that people are less likely to commit crimes if they think a deputy is nearby.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.

The South Precinct is...

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office South Precinct is bordered on the north by Morrison Road, on the east by Sheridan Boulevard, on the south by Chatfield Reservoir and on the west by Highway 8.