Victoria's overall crime rate decreases in 2011
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When Lillian Taylor came home Monday after two weeks in the hospital, she discovered her home had been burglarized.
The glass was broken in the window of her back door, where the intruders entered, and her wedding rings and a watch she received from her late husband, who died in 2002, were stolen along with other precious jewelry.
Her children said their mother was devastated by the crime.
"We would ask that if whoever stole her rings has a mother or a grandmother that they love, they would stop and think how they would feel if someone stole from them," said Taylor's daughter, Linda Ragsdale, 65, of Victoria. "We would ask that they return her wedding rings and the watch. They can mail them to her anonymously or just leave them in her mail box."
This was the second time Taylor's home in the 4700 block of Lilac Lane was burglarized in the past two years.
Two years ago, repairmen installing flooring in her kitchen stole jewelry hidden in her bathroom.
Since the second burglary, Taylor's children have installed a security system and replaced her back door with one that does not have windows.
The Victoria Police Department records for 2011 show a 3-percent decrease in class 1 crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft.
"There was also a very significant decrease in class II crimes - a little more than 24 percent," said Police Chief JJ Craig. "Those are really remarkable numbers."
Class II crimes include criminal mischief/vandalism, driving under the influence, drugs/narcotics, forgery/counterfeit, fraud, liquor law violations, simple assaults, terroristic threats, trespassing and weapons violations.
Craig credits the decrease in crime in Victoria to the hardworking men and women of the Victoria Police Department, but also to the investment in crime prevention, educating the public on how to avoid being the victims of crime.
The education of the public has specifically helped reduce the number of vehicle burglaries in Victoria, Craig said.
In addition to reducing the number of burglaries, Craig said the police department has had success getting burglars off the streets.
"We haven't publicized every one of them, but we have had great success in catching burglars of both homes and vehicles," Craig said. "This is because the patrol units have been good about taking data from witnesses and victims, knowing their areas and being vigilant. Sometimes it is just being in the right place at the right time to make the arrests."
Though there has been an overall decrease in class 1 crimes, the department records show nine more incidents of rape in 2011 than the previous year as well as a slight increase in aggravated assaults and home burglaries.
Craig said the department will focus its efforts on aggravated assault and home burglaries in the coming year.
"Aggravated assault is a problem area we will focus on in the upcoming year. There are problematic places and problematic bars where we will be focusing our efforts," Craig said. "We have also had a 4-percent increase in home burglaries, so that will be another focus area. We hope to educate the public through social media and other technology to protect their homes."
Craig said he is amazed at how many people leave their garage doors open or don't lock their doors.
"I have had people tell me that they are proud to live in a city where they can leave their doors unlocked," Craig said. "Victoria is a very safe city, but we are a bit too trustful at times. There are people who would just as soon take your stuff. If people would just lock their doors we would probably decrease vehicle burglaries alone by another 30 percent."
Community involvement also can aid patrol in getting burglars off the streets, said Victoria Police Sgt. Eline Moya.
"Call us if you see something that looks suspicious or just doesn't seem quite right," Craig said. "Those times when people call us, we often catch people in the act of committing crimes. Sometimes that one phone call adds a vital piece to the puzzle."
Callers who report suspicious activity can remain anonymous, Moya said. The dispatchers are trained to ask whether callers would like to remain anonymous or if they would like a police officer to get in contact with them.
Victoria also has been influenced by the national trend of a rise in sophisticated crimes such as forgeries, Craig said.
"Those crimes are low risk, but high reward. People can steal one checkbook or credit card and potentially get away with making a lot of unauthorized purchases," Craig said. "Fortunately the rise of crimes of that nature are not as high in Victoria as they are in some other cities."