ABILENE, Texas - A rise in car burglaries and theft because of unlocked vehicles and unattended valuables is causing concern for both law enforcement and Abilenians.
The Abilene Police Department has seen the largest increase in car burglaries, theft and rape. Police believe a few reasons exist for the increase.
Motor vehicle burglaries increased from 426 in 2013, this time last year, to 538 this year. Thefts not involving motor vehicles are up to 1,365 for 2014 compared to 1,244 for 2013.
Chief Stan Standridge said that of those 538 burglaries, 376 of those vehicles were left unlocked.
"Crimes such as these can only occur if three things are present: desire, ability, and opportunity," Standridge said. "We can only control opportunity."
Property crime has also increased nine percent from 2013, and has increased over the past two years. Police say thieves often break into your homes when you are at work. They continuously ring the doorbell, and if no one answers, they go around back and break in through there.
Standridge said that if back doors, windows, and back gates are locked, thieves won't see your home as an opportunity.
In addition to burglaries, Standridge said that although there has been a decrease in domestically made methamphetamine because of recent laws regulating sales of ephedrine, there has been an increase in Mexican-made methamphetamine.
"We have evidence to support the belief that Abilene serves as a conduit for drug trafficking that originates from Mexico, eventually makes it to Interstate 20, then to the Dallas, Fort Worth area, and back to West Texas for distribution," Standridge said.
Abilene police also said that rape numbers have risen because of a change in definition by the FBI. The old definition was that rape is forced intercourse between a man and a woman. The new definition went into effect January 1, 2014 and includes all aspects of sexual assault, which Standridge said, "is a more accurate assessment of rapes in our communities."
There were 21 rapes at this time in 2013. With the new definition, there have been 53 rapes for 2014.
Although there was a rise in crime, Standridge said that they continue to serve the community by keeping Abilene citizens safe. He said the department is fully staffed; both murders this year have been solved, divisions are working together to solve crimes, and they continue to work together with multiple organizations to keep the city safe.
According to Standridge, you can stay safe by:
*- Taking inventory of your valuables at home by make, model and serial number.
*- Removing valuables from car; lock the car; removing the keys; no exceptions!
*- Reporting all suspicious activity.
*- Remembering that you are the first line of defense against crime.