Auto theft, property crime up in Hermiston

<p>Hermiston Police Officer Russell Holt prepares for a shift on Friday. Third-quarter crime statistics indicate that while violent crime is on the decline, property crime and auto theft are on the rise.</p>

Auto theft and property crimes are up in Hermiston, according to third-quarter Hermiston Police Department report statistics, but violent crime is down.

Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston said there are reasons to be encouraged about third-quarter crime report statistics, but some sets of numbers indicate issues will require more attention from law enforcement officials and the public in the future.

The numbers from July to September are a particularly valuable set of statistics for officers, Edmiston said.

“The third quarter is the most important,” Edmiston said. “The report assists us in identifying trends.”

Edmiston said the third-quarter statistics provide a window into what has occurred during the previous year and what the department will need to focus on in the coming year.

“The third-quarter report can give us a nine-month glimpse and tells us what our goals should be in 2014,” Edmiston said.

The statistics for reported violent crime indicate a positive shift for law enforcement officials and the public. Violent crime includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. With the average since 2004 standing at 32 with 20 incidents occurring in 2012, Hermiston has seen 14 reported violent crimes this year, thus far. Aggravated assault has shown a significant decrease. The yearly average is 21 cases. Only four cases have been reported thus far in 2013.

The same cannot be said for incidents of vehicle theft and property crime are on the rise. With the total number of auto thefts in the first nine months of 2013 standing at 53, and the yearly average at 46, the number of incidents has already surpassed the 2012 total of 53 with three more months of statistics to take into account this year.

Edmiston said the public can help reduce auto thefts. Driver complacency, especially during the winter months, provides criminals with an easy opportunity, Edmiston said.

“Forty-one percent of the vehicles that were stolen had the keys left in the vehicle,” Edmiston. “It’s a crime of opportunity. There’s something we can do to address the auto theft rate. We will continue to educate the public about not leaving their cars running and keys accessible.”

Property crimes are another cause for concern, Edmiston said. The rate of crime against property has seen a steady rise from a low of 505 incidents in 2010 but has grown steadily with 601 reported cases in 2012 and 589 incidents already reported in 2013. With three months left in the year, 2013 could be one of the worst years on record since 2004. Edmiston said the department will be focusing on how to address the problem in the coming months.

“Property crime is still in a place I am not comfortable with,” Edmiston said. “It’s going to take a group effort to lower the property crime rate in Hermiston.”

While the total numbers of reported crime is on the rise, it is important to note the population of Hermiston has increased by more than 2,000 residents since 2004, Edmiston said.

With violent crime on the decline and property crime on the rise, Edmiston said HPD will use the coming months to analyze crime statistics and evaluate its approach to public safety and law enforcement in the area.

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