Rise in property crimes related to drug arrests, police chief says



In an overwhelming number of theft from vehicle cases, 86 percent of crime victims didn’t lock their vehicles.

Grand Junction in 2012 experienced a slight drop in violent crime but also saw a surge in most varieties of property crime, according to a mixed bag of data from the Grand Junction Police Department’s annual report on crime.

Taken as a whole, Police Chief John Camper described the city’s 2012 formal snapshot of local crime, completed this week, as “fairly benign.”

“We don’t draw a lot of conclusions from this one,” Camper said. “Certainly we’ll go through these categories and try to assess the causes of any increase or decrease.”

According to the 2012 annual findings, overall reported cases of violent crime — homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — dropped to 181 in 2012, down from 212 in 2011. Each category of violent offense experienced year-over-year drops.

But a spike in reported theft, theft from vehicles and shoplifting trended the wrong way in Grand Junction over 2012 with 3,251 reported cases, a five-year high for overall property crime.

In an overwhelming number of theft from vehicle cases, 86 percent of crime victims didn’t lock their vehicles, according to the report.

Drug arrests also soared in 2012 to 1,412, another five-year high.

The Western Colorado Drug Task Force, a multi-agency unit targeting drug organizations in Mesa County, set an eight-year record for drug arrests in 2012 with 298, while reporting year-over-year increases in seizures of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and pharmaceutical drugs.

“Anytime you’re seeing an increase in drug offenses and arrests, it’s not unusual to see increases in property crimes as well,” Camper said, noting a “very busy” 2012 for the local Drug Task Force.

“We could probably have a Drug Task Force that is twice the size it is now and still keep them busy,” he said.

The chief said he isn’t pushing for or promoting an expansion of the Drug Task Force.

Traffic accident deaths declined slightly, but Grand Junction motorists set a five-year record for damage on roads, according to the report.

Property damage traffic accidents surged to 2,176 in 2012.

Traffic tickets issued by officers declined year-over-year to 7,940.

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