Victoria Police Department hopes to track new trends with mid-year crime stats
July 26, 2014 at 2:26 a.m.
Officials with the Victoria Police Department are looking at mid-year crime stats in a new way because they'll set the tone for trends in crime going forward.
Police Chief J.J. Craig said this year's numbers will be a truer representation of the city today and will be more in-line with current demographics, allowing the department and community to have a better understanding of what crime in Victoria looks like.
"We're establishing the new norms," Craig said. "We're comparing ourselves to previous years when we didn't have the same level of retail," and these numbers, he said, project a new normal. "As the city continues to grow, we're establishing new boundaries and new levels of what we're going to see."
Victoria saw its first murder of the year in June - the stabbing of 35-year-old Joseph Valdez. Police responded to Valdez's home in the 1100 block of Warren Avenue. Valdez was in the street unconscious and bleeding from a stab wound to the chest. An arrest in the fatal stabbing hasn't been made, but the department is wrapping up its criminal investigation against Catherine Vasquez and plans to deliver the case to the district attorney by the end of the month.
Rape numbers continue to grow, up almost 60 percent from last year, after the police department implemented the FBI's definition change to include sexual assault of men and children. As a whole, the department is not seeing an increase of sexual assaults. It only appears to be growing because before the definition change, assaults were individually classified. Most assaults are acquaintance-type incidents in which the victim had known the offender.
While robbery numbers are down more than 40 percent from last year, people on the street and businesses continue to be the front-runners of the crime. Several armed robberies of Sonic Drive-Ins earlier this year set the tone for more than 17 offenses committed between January and June. Police said no arrests have been made in the Sonic Drive-In cases. Despite the drop in robberies to date, the numbers are still in line with previous years.
Aggravated assaults are down about 11 percent from the same time period last year, but offenses are expected to rise during the summer months. An increase in domestic violence numbers are alarming to the department because the crime is considered to be difficult to prevent. Increasing awareness on resources available, such as Mid-Coast Family Services and the women's shelter, will be continual.
Burglaries consistently decreased the past few years, but a 13-percent increase has been reported during the first six months of the year. While burglary of motor vehicles is a huge concern in Victoria, those crimes are classified under thefts. The 13 percent increase is the result of buglaries of residences and commercial buildings. Officers continue to promote awareness in the community, calling the offenses preventable because front and back doors, windows and garages were left open on several of the reported crimes.
Thefts in Victoria show a slight drop from last year, but they are expected to increase during the summer. Crime prevention officers John Turner and Chris Guerra have taken to social media in a comedic way to remind people to "lock their cars" and "hide their stuff." Despite garnering almost 1,000 new likes on Facebook during the course of a week, the department continues to see purses, electronics and the very popular Yeti coolers left out in plain sight.
Motor Vehicle Theft
Nine vehicles were reported stolen in Victoria in June, bringing the mid-year number up to 35, a slight increase from last year. In past years, motor vehicle thefts typically came in a string as part of an organized effort, but numbers this year don't reflect previous trends.
Source: Victoria PoliceDepartment and Police Chief J.J. Craig