Larcenies, burglaries are most common crimes in Newcastle

September 2, 2011

By Christina Lords

While incidents of crime have been relatively minimal in town for the first six months of 2011, the police department is stepping up its efforts to combat the more prevalent crimes of larceny and burglaries.

There were 28 residential burglaries reported in the city in the first six months of 2011, according to Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine.

Larceny includes various crimes, such as when items are taken from cars or buildings and bicycle thefts.

“Larceny has continued to be our highest problem in the city,” she said.

Such reports are still comparatively lower than other adjacent communities, Irvine said.

Because Newcastle can be perceived as an affluent community, some burglars come into the town from other areas to commit these types of crimes, she said.

“One big reason we’re getting a lot of thefts of jewelry is because the price of gold has gone way up,” Irvine said. “Some of the people we’ve charged … have gone on to pawn the gold, and we’ve been able to locate them that way.”

Irvine reported the trends to the City Council in a presentation Aug. 16.

The Olympus and Ridgewood neighborhoods have experienced the most reported residential burglaries so far this year, the report states.

City Councilman Bill Erxleben said while vehicle break-ins and other thefts at Cougar Mountain trailheads occur out of Newcastle’s jurisdiction, many Newcastle residents use those areas and should be better protected.

He urged Irvine to encourage the King County Sheriff’s Office to increase its presence there through the use of security cameras.

Irvine agreed and said she would take that feedback to King County officials.

The department has stepped up its efforts to combat residential burglaries within the area in several ways, she said, including Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems training for every police officer in the department.

The more officers who have the training, the faster the department can process a crime scene, Irvine said.

The department has strengthened its relationship with other law enforcement agencies to work together to solve crimes, especially to catch burglars working as teams or in groups in different residential areas, Irvine said.

Agencies working together have allowed King County prosecutors to seek longer sentences for perpetrators through the county’s Repeat Burglary Initiative, she said.

As more repeat offenders are tied to crimes throughout more jurisdictions, those criminals are given longer sentences, and overall cases for burglary in the surrounding areas have come down, Irvine said.

Better communication between police and the public is another long-term goal for the department, she said.

The department will step up its use of social media sites for alerts and crime prevention tips. It also plans to continue to promote increased use of the department’s online reporting system, which allows residents to make a police report and follow up with additional information online at www.reporttosheriff.org.

Irvine said she has also seen an increase in demand for house checks while people are on vacation and increased requests for Blockwatch meetings, where neighbors can gather to meet with a police officer to learn about crime prevention and crime trends in their areas.

Residents interested in the Blockwatch program can call Officer Ryan Olmsted at 206-391-6713.

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