Violent crimes increase in Victoria during first 6 months of year
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Most theft-related crimes in Victoria have dropped since 2011, but violent crimes, such as aggravated assaults and rape, increased in the first seven months of 2012.
The crime reports from the Victoria Police Department for January to July 2012, compared with the same months in 2011, show that overall, Class 1 crimes have decreased by about 9 percent.
"When I look at these numbers, clearly I'm pleased with the fact that we are 9 percent down through July, compared to last year," Police Chief J.J. Craig said. "And last year's numbers were very good - we were down 3 percent from the year before, 2010. In a year and a half, we are down 12 percent."
Craig said even though the overall numbers have gone down, the individual categories need careful consideration.
Rape, for example, increased by 33 percent, with six more incidents occurring so far this year than in 2011.
"Rape is one of those crimes that we pay particular attention to. We think one is one too many," Craig said. "That is a crime that you are seeing some increases, and I think it is attributed more to public awareness and willingness to report it."
Craig also said rapes in Victoria overwhelmingly take place when the victim knows the attacker. He said the department is pushing for people, particularly women, to be mindful of that.
Aggravated assaults increased by 62 incidents, but Craig said one reason for the increase is that the Texas Legislature made assault by strangulation a felony in September. It was not included in the report before that change. Through July, strangulation made up 37 of the 209 reports.
Murders increased by one, but Craig said statistically that is on par with a normal year. Since 2004, Victoria has averaged 3.25 murders a year.
Although reports of motor vehicle theft went up by six reported incidents, burglaries went down by 79, thefts were down by 172 and robberies were down by 11.
"I'm particularly pleased with the burglary and theft numbers, because we have made that a particular emphasis with our crime prevention folks," Craig said.
Campaigns such as Lock-Take-Hide is one example of the police department encouraging citizens to protect their belongings.
Despite officers leaving recently for other job opportunities, patrol has not been affected, Craig said.
"I have concerns about losing experienced officers because we have invested a lot of time, effort and energy to get them to that point," Craig said. "You can't replace that overnight ... We will make sure that it (patrol) doesn't become impacted.
"We will always be able to function, or provide for the core mission of this organization, and that is the ability to answer 911 calls."