Shoplifting drives crime figures in Madison up for 2017
Although Crime in Madison in 2017 was up, law enforcement officials note that the majority of the increase was from shoplifting.
“That’s driving the majority of the increase,” Captain Kevin Newman said. “It almost doubled (between 2016 and 2017).”
In 2016, the city experienced a total of 290 counts of criminal activity, with 47 of the 290 being shoplifting cases. The total number increased to 322 for last year, including 90 counts of shoplifting.
With the additional new retail along Grandview Boulevard, Newman said that’s given criminals more opportunities to steal.
“We don’t have any evidence that there’s any organized shoplifting,” he said. “I would say it’s increased due to the fact that we’ve increased retail space.”
On a national level, Newman said there is more evidence of organized shoplifting, with a crew that takes merchandise in order to sell it later and make money.
“There’s no evidence of that here in Madison.”
Grand larceny showed a slight increase as well, with 102 counts in 2016 and 116 last year. Petit larceny remained steady, with 26 counts both last year and in 2016.
“The majority of petit larcenies are thefts from unlocked automobiles,” Newman said. “People leave valuables in unlocked cars. During the summer, juveniles go out and look for unlocked cars.”
Newman said the department made arrests on petit larceny criminals last year.
“We always encourage everyone to lock their cars, even when it’s in the driveway or garage, and don’t leave valuables in plain sight or in the vehicle.”
Auto thefts were down in 2017 with seven cases reported. In 2016, the city had nine counts.
“The majority of auto theft cases usually involved someone the victim knows has taken the car and hasn’t returned it,” Newman said. “Or it’s someone they know that’s taken the car and left. It’s not usually a case where the victim and suspect are not related.”
Residential and business burglaries together remained constant, but residential burglaries decreased while business burglaries increased between 2016 and last year.
In 2016, the city only had two counts of business burglaries, but had a total of five last year. Residentially, there were 12 burglaries two years ago and only eight last year.
“We had a spat of business burglaries in the metro area a couple of months ago,” Newman said. “They hit us and Ridgeland, but we made arrests on that. We don’t normally see a lot of business burglaries, but the one person that committed those drove those numbers up.”
Newman suggested the decrease in residential burglaries was due to citizens be more mindful of closing garage doors, locking front and back doors, and officers increasing patrol.
“We always stress to officers to patrol neighborhoods and be seen. It’s a really good deterrent to would-be burglars to see our cars.”
Simple and aggravated (weapon) assaults both decreased between 2016 and last year. In 2016, the city had 78 counts of simple assault and 10 counts of aggravated. Last year, the numbers dropped to 59 and nine, respectively.
“A lot of the assaults involve domestic situations,” Newman said. “From what I’ve seen in the past, when the economy’s bad, it puts stress on families, and people get into certain situations… It creates stress within the family… When it’s a good situation in the economy and people have jobs, (families) aren’t going to get into disputes… That’s my theory. Most of our assaults are domestic or family-related.”
The city had four counts of robbery in 2016 and only one count last year.
“Usually with those types of crime, it’s the same individual involved, and that one person can skew the numbers pretty high if they’re out there committing robberies and burglaries,” Newman said.
There were no rapes or murders in Madison in 2016, and there was one count of rape last year.
“That case, again, was one where the victim and perpetrator were known to each other,” he said.
Despite some areas of increased statistics, Newman said the department is working to lower the numbers.
“The numbers do fluctuate, and we always like to see a reduction. The majority of those (last year) are shoplifting, and we can account for that by increase in retail. That’s something we’ve been looking at, and we’re putting additional officers and patrol in retail areas.”
Newman said the tactic is similar to what the department proactively does during the holiday season.
“But we’ll do it year-round. As retail increases, we have to respond accordingly, so we’ll be increasing our presence and enforcement in that area.”