Crime rate up in county, but cleared cases climb, too

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

July 18, 2007 - The crime rate in Hopkins County was 11 percent higher during the first six months of 2007 than in the same time period in 2006.

At the same time, however, more cases were solved or cleared from the books in the first half of this year than in the last seven years, according to Uniform Crime Reports kept by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office.

The crime rate through June 30 is the third-lowest recorded since 2001. The 7-year record high of 214 for the first half was set in 2001, and the low of 144 set in 2006.

This year continues a pattern begun in 2003 of increasingly more cases being cleared than in the previous year. 

For this decade, the fewest number of cases solved in the first half of a year was 81 in 2002. The most is the 142 cases cleared this year.

Hopkins County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Rickey Morgan said it's hard to pin down the reasons the number of crimes committed rises or falls, but he does have an explanation for why so many are being solved.

"We're clearing more because as soon as the cases come in, the officers get on them quick," he said. "A lot are solved because they don't let the trail get cold.  The officers have been uncovering some good stuff, which clears most cases." 

He also noted that the number cleared also reflects some instances of cases carried over from previous reporting periods being solved.

There were no homicides, no arsons and no robberies recorded during the first six months this year, the same as in 2006.

There were also fewer rapes, burglaries and vehicle thefts.

There were six rapes last year and only one reported in the first six months of 2007. Three rape cases were cleared from the books last year, and two this year.

The 7-year low for burglaries in the first half of a year was set this year, with only 39 recorded. The seven-year high of 68 was set in 2001. This year, 33 burglaries were cleared from the books, just under the six-year record of 42 cleared cases in 2006. 

There were six vehicle thefts this year, one fewer than in 2006. The low was set in 2002, when no vehicle thefts were recorded in the first six months of the year.Also, five vehicle thefts were cleared this year, one fewer than in 2006.

Unfortunately, there more simple assaults, aggravated assaults and larcenies in the first half of 2007 than in 2006.

Overall, 35 simple assaults were reported, up from 26 last year, but less than in any other of the last seven years. The high was set at 58 in 2001.

But more cases of simple assault were cleared than reported, indicating cases which carried over from a previous year were also dispatched of. In the first half of 2007, 36 simple assault cases were cleared compared to 27 last year.

There were 18 aggravated assaults this year and 17 cases cleared. One year ago, six cases had been reported, the fewest in seven years, and nine aggravated assaults were cleared during the first six months. The seven-year high of 27 was recorded in 2004, when 26 cases were cleared.

"There are more simple assaults and aggravated assaults, but at least 99 percent overall were cleared up," Morgan said. "Of course, these cases are simpler to solve. You've more or less got a suspect ... . The victim is most times able to identify the suspect and tell us who did it."

Larcenies rose from 56 in 2006 to 61 in 2007. Last year, 44 larceny cases had been cleared as of June 30, whereas 49 were cleared this year. The seven-year high for larceny was 70 in 2004, when only 21 cases were cleared from the books. The low wast 48 in 2003, when only 14 cases were cleared.

"A lot of the thefts are of copper wire, a trend statewide right now that's picking up. The rest are thefts," Morgan said, adding that deputies are currently making concerted efforts to watch locations more likely to be targeted for such thefts.

"Some are remote and harder to get to and sometimes deputies have to wait for workers to get there to report on them," Morgan said. "We don't have extra deputies to patrol, but the ones we have are concentrating on certain areas."

Morgan added that the sheriff's office hopes to have more deputies when the Hopkins County Commissioners Court adopts a new budget for  the coming year.

"We've asked for extra deputies for extra manpower," Morgan said. "We hope the commissioners will give them to us. ... We'll work and do the best we can with what we have."

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