Burglaries up last year

Christina Calloway

Burglary reports last year in Portales were more than double compared to 2009, according to the Portales Police Department’s 2011 annual report.

There were 293 burglaries reported in 2011 compared to 125 in 2009, according to the report.

Portales Police Chief Jeff Gill said the jump in burglaries — which is described as the unlawful taking from a residence, motor vehicle, or any other dwelling — was partly due to a string of thefts from motor vehicles in the fall of 2011.

Gill said a group of mostly teens were burglarizing unlocked vehicles. Gill said these individuals didn’t break into any vehicles, they just opened the doors of unlocked cars and left locked cars alone.

Gill said since the suspects in the case have been arrested the department has not seen a reoccurrence of those type of activities and he expects the number of burglaries to decrease in 2012.

“I’d like to stress that people should really lock their cars,” Gill said.

Meanwhile, violent crime numbers have stayed steady over the last five years, according to the report.

“Portales overall is a safe community to live in,” Gill said. “We don’t have a lot of violent crime, and what we do have we pursue aggressively.”

Gill said the department’s calls for service has definitely increased to 14,969 calls in 2011 compared to 13,566 in 2010. He attributed the increase to Portales’ growing population.

“With more people living here, there is a demand for service,” Gill said.

There has been one homicide a year in Portales since 2007. Gill said homicides usually have been committed by acquaintances of the victim.

Rape cases have had a small decline since 2007, from six reported rapes to four in 2011 with the exception of a spike in 2010 when 15 rapes were reported.

Gill said rape is an umbrella term for a number of sex crimes.

He’s not sure what caused the spike in 2010, but he said recently they have been working with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and he said they have been extremely helpful in working with victims.

There was one robbery last year and Gill said they are working the case now and have some leads.

Assaults have declined from 204 in 2010 to 177 in 2011. Assaults ranged from bar fights and arguments to children fighting in school, according to Gill.

Gill said the school resource officer program was reinstated in January to alleviate issues in Portales schools.

Gill said they also increased their manpower when the bars close.

“We try to allocate our resources to better address these problems and prevent these crimes from occurring when they have a higher probability,” Gill said.

A lot of these crimes are seasonal and hard to predict the rest of year, according to Gill.

“I know we still have crime, but we do try to aggressively pursue it,” Gill said. “We’re not a big department but our guys are out there doing the best they can every day. Our job is to make the people in the community feel safe.”

There are 24 officers with the Portales Police Department.

Crime stats from the Portales Police Department’s 2011 annual report