The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 16, 2013

Crime shift: Enid police, sheriff's office seeing fewer violent crimes

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Crime in Enid and Garfield County has shifted — as the population in the area has increased — to match growth in local industries.

Enid Police Department and Garfield County Sheriff’s Office data shows fewer violent crimes reported in 2012 than 2011, but more property crimes, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts were reported last year.

Data provided by EPD showed last year it fielded 92,187 calls made to the department. In 2011, that number was 90,996, or 1,191 fewer calls.

EPD spokesman Capt. Jack Morris said data for the past two years shows violent crimes decreasing but property crimes increasing.

“Some major crimes, such as robberies and assaults, went down,” he said. “Our larcenies and motor vehicle thefts increased. It seems to drop in some areas and increase in others.”

In 2011, EPD took reports of 31 robberies. The number decreased to 22 in 2012. However, eight more rapes were reported over the two years, with 30 reported in 2012.

Between the two years, police saw a decrease in assaults. In 2011, police took 1,302 reports of assaults and took 1,237 the following year.

There were 18 more reports of motor vehicle thefts, 49 more burglaries and 81 more larcenies reported to EPD in 2012 than in 2011.

Those crimes, considered Class 1 crimes, account for about 25 percent of the calls police take, Morris said.

Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles said his department likely will see an increase in larcenies and burglaries in 2013, due to an increase in industry in the area.

“This year, there is going to be an increase in burglaries and larcenies, especially with oil field equipment,” Niles said. “We’re going to see that trend this year because of the continuous influx of theft of oil field-related tools and equipment. We see a continuing trend on that.”

While larcenies dropped by 14, from 99 in 2011 to 85 in 2012, the sheriff’s office saw 16 more motor vehicle thefts last year than in 2011.

Increases in burglaries and assault were seen over the two-year period, data shows. Overall, drug crimes decreased during the span, likely due to reassignment of duties for some deputies, Niles said.



Preventing crimes



Niles said his office is working on getting property owners to take steps to prevent thefts and make it easier for stolen items to be recovered and returned. He said residents can take steps to help protect themselves from theft.

Vehicles should be kept locked and secured. All items of value should be removed from vehicles that will be parked for extended periods.

Morris said valuables need to be removed from vehicles, or better secured.

“For the ladies, put your purses in the trunk instead of leaving them inside the car,” he said. “Don’t leave expensive items like cellphones or computers in your car. If you’re going to leave those items in your car, leave them in your trunk.”

Morris said most burglaries from vehicles could be prevented by taking the simplest steps, such as locking car doors.

“The most simple auto break-ins are people checking if your car doors are locked, and if not, rummaging through your car,” he said.

Residents also can take measures to protect their homes from burglary.

“Make sure you have your porch lights on, hedges and shrubbery and trees cut back from windows and doors,” Niles said. “If you do go out of town, make sure you have your house placed on a watch list. Have a trusted friend or neighbor watch your house.”

Morris said good neighbors and neighborhood watch programs are some of the best preventative measures against crime.

“One good thing about neighbors is they watch out for one another,” he said.

Morris said most neighbors are aware of each other’s routines, and can spot something suspicious, or someone or something that does not belong.

“If something is suspicious, call us,” the captain said. “If you see someone that doesn’t belong there, or a car that’s not supposed to be there, don’t hesitate to have somebody come check it out.”

“We are trying to get out and educate company owners, businesses and individuals to make sure they record serial numbers on all their valuables,” Niles said. “That helps us tremendously in tracking down and recovering stolen items.”

Morris said as technology moves forward, scam sophistication does, too.

“There are a lot of these people who try to scam others, and they seem to target the elderly,” he said. “Things that seem too good to be true usually are. Nine times out of 10, it’s a scam.”

Morris said to be wary of prizes from contests you don’t recall entering.

“You’ve won $25 million, but you need to send us $2,000. Those are things people need to avoid,” he said. “If you truly won money, you’ be presented with that at your door.”



Adapting to trends



Niles said the sheriff’s office will conduct special emphasis enforcement throughout the year, to address specific problems as they arise in the county.

“With our manpower, we are going to also be doing some concentrated and enhanced enforcement, be it trash dumps or burglaries,” he said. “We will be doing more intelligence-based policing.”

Despite being down officers, Morris said the department is meeting its minimum staffing requirements as required by contract, and responding to all  the calls the department receives.

“We don’t turn any calls away, “ he said. “We are working all the calls we are getting.”

Falling below full staffing does make it more difficult for the department to conduct enhanced enforcement.

“We’re still offering the same service we always have,” Chief Brian O’Rourke said.

He said people have contacted the department wanting more traffic enforcement in their neighborhood, or specialized patrols, but having fewer officers makes it more difficult to meet such requests.

“It makes it tough to respond to people’s requests for enforcement,” O’Rourke said.

EPD uses a program called Command Central, part of its CrimeReports software, which maps crimes with reports taken by the department. Morris said officers use the programs to target areas where a police presence is needed and use it to identify crime trends.

“It allows us to go a little more in depth and utilize it as a tool to become more effective with our enforcement, as far as our patrolling and areas to focus on,” he said.

Niles said county residents could help prevent crimes by being more involved and active in sharing information with law enforcement.

“Be more involved in their community. If you have a tip contact Crime stoppers or Text-A-Tip,” Niles said. “If you see something suspicious, contact your local law enforcement agency or local sheriff’s office.

“We’re going to continue to stress crime prevention and proactive, high-visibility patrols.”

Morris urged anyone with knowledge of a crime to contact police.

“If you have any information involving a crime, use Text-A-Tip or Crime Stoppers, you can remain anonymous,” he said. “It takes us and the public to make this town safer.”



Getting in touch



Anyone having information that will lead to the arrest or prosecution of any crime is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (580) 233-6233. You also can text a tip from a cellphone by texting CRIMES (274637). Be sure to type “Enid” in the subject field. Tips also can be submitted via the Internet by going to www.tipsoft.com.

Tipsters can earn a reward up to $1,000 and will not be required to testify or be identified.

Callers also may contact the Enid Police Department with information at (580) 242-7000 or Garfield County Sheriff’s Office at (580) 237-0244.