LIMA — Crime in Allen County continues to fall to its lowest level in a decade and perhaps ever.
Sheriff Sam Crish released crime statistics for 2014 that will be reported to the FBI for the annual Uniform Crime Report released each year in the fall. That report contains seven categories of crime. The Sheriff’s Office recorded 1,444 crimes. In 2013, that number was at 1,515, a previous low.
“These numbers are low when you look at history but I truly think we can go even lower than this,” Crish said.
Crish said a lot of factors can be credited to the success beyond hard work by his deputies and effective strategies to fight crime. Drug users, who steal or break into houses, for example, may be receiving effective counseling that has taken drugs out of that person’s life and stopped the need to steal, he said.
Educating children on the dangers of drugs also prevents drug use, Crish said.
Crish credited the public for taking a stand. He’s seeing more people report crimes to police. He’s also seeing an increased use in social media to inform people and for people to help solve crimes such as the resident who identifies a store robber after watching the video posted on Facebook.
“We’re trying to stay on top of things. The effort with law enforcement and people in the community, churches, schools, working with everyone, can keep the numbers down,” Crish said.
Technology also gets credit, he said. Many more people have alarm systems or security cameras installed at their homes, he said.
Crish also gave credit to concealed carry of handguns. He said law-abiding citizens carrying guns are making criminals think twice.
“CCW is another piece of the puzzle. It deters people. They don’t want to take a chance,” Crish said.
Gun ownership also is one of the reasons behind a decline in burglaries, Crish said. Most burglaries are during the day when no one is home, rather than at night, which used to be more common. Burglars don’t want to be confronted by a homeowner with a gun so they try to strike when no one is home, he said.
The sheriff also credited police agencies working together to solve problems.
Allen County saw two more homicides in 2014 compared to the year before. Crish said it’s hard to prevent homicides, one of which was a marital situation.
Rapes were down to three from six the previous year. Crish was happy to see those cut in half.
Many crimes involve drugs, Crish said, which he watches thefts, robberies and burglaries to see who is stealing to support their drug habits. Robberies increased from seven in 2013 to 10 in 2014 in the county. Burglaries dropped from 241 to 226 during the same period and thefts increased from 747 to 750.
While two categories saw slight increases, the numbers in those categories have fallen a significant amount during the past decade, according to records. All categories except homicide are well below the average for the past 10 years.
Assaults dropped from 477 to 424 and motor vehicle thefts fell from 37 to 29 when comparing 2014 data to the previous year.
While Crish would like to see crime eradicated he said that will never happen but he believes it has not hit the bottom of the statistical spectrum.
“We’re not going to be crime-free but I do feel we are becoming a safer community,” he said.
Lima Police Department does not have the numbers tallied for 2014. The agency is upgrading computer equipment and it will take some time for the agency to get everything in place to pull the numbers, Maj. Chip Protsman said.
Protsman expects the numbers to be available by early March.