Crime in city of Cassville jumps 7 percent in 2013

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thefts, domestic crimes see largest rise in reports

According to Cpl. Donald Privett of the Cassville Police Department, crime in the city is on the rise.

In 2012, Cassville saw a total of 3,484 reports to the department, jumping to 3,733 reports in 2013, a 7 percent rise.

Privett said the crimes seeing the largest spike in reports include misdemeanor thefts and domestic crimes. In 2012, Cassville police recorded only 90 incidents of theft, nearly doubling in 2013 with 179 reports. As for domestic crimes, including domestic battery and verbal disputes, 2012 saw 20 reports, and 2013 saw nearly four times that amount with a total of of 76.

"Stealing always goes up and down, but domestic [crimes] have been going up," Privett said. "That can be based on the economy and living situations, and there tends to be alcohol or narcotics involved."

Privett also said the higher volume of reports may be hindering the road officers' ability of pursue crimes proactively, such as crimes like speeding or minors in possession. In 2012, the department reported 28 cases of minors in possession, and that has dropped to 11 in 2103.

"That's dropped because they just haven't got caught," Privett said. "We hit the parks and the kids get smart about it and either hide it better or just don't come into town. But, the more calls we get, the more patrol officers do not have time for traffic enforcement and proactive work."

Dana Kammerlohr, Cassville police chief, said the department deals with vandalism issues in the parks as well, mostly during the summer months.

"We've had people in the past vandalize the parks and that costs the city money to get fixed," she said. "It's probably a teenage or young adult group, and a lot of them don't realize how that affects people who use the parks in a negative way."

To help stem the upward trend in crime, Privett said the department is advising residents to be more vigilant, especially when it comes to protecting their cars and homes.

"If you're not at your home or vehicle, lock them," he said. "Don't leave your keys in your car and make sure your doors are locked before you leave the house. We, [the city of Cassville] are not big enough to have big issue like home invasions, but we did have one where someone entered a house and the homeowner pushed him out the door."

Cassville police divide the city into four zones, and Privett said the zone garnering the most reports is Zone 3, which encompasses the southwest part of town and includes Walmart and the majority of the city's businesses. Zone 2, which he said encompasses the northwest part of town, sees the least amount of activity. Even though there are differences in reports by zone, Kammerlohr said the department does not ignore any part of town.

"We try to patrol all areas of the city to help deter crime," she said.

Privett said the economy is likely to blame for much of the rise in crime, including a 15 percent rise in failures to appear or pay fines, from 161 in 2012 to 185 in 2013.

"Most of those are repeat people," Privett said. "The only thing we do to lower that number is, once a month, we try to go out and do a county-wide warrant sweep, with [Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly's] permission.

"We send out four officers in two cars and hit homes of people with warrants and arrest them. It's economically feasible because warrants average about $100 to $150 in fines."

Privett said other noticeable changes in reports are found in traffic tickets, as he said more people are driving without insurance because they can't afford it. Vehicular accidents have gone up slightly, as there were 112 in 2012 and 120 in 2013. Driving while intoxicated reports, however, have dipped, as there were 18 in 2012 and 16 in 2013.

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