December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria, Lorain see drop in burglaries in 2013

Crime graphicWhile violent crime increased slightly in Elyria and Lorain, burglaries dropped 30 percent in 2013 from 2012.

The decrease was the most significant drop in 2013 annual crime statistics from Lorain County’s two largest police departments and the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office. While homicides and robberies get more attention, burglaries affect more people.

The reported burglaries in Elyria and Lorain were the lowest in five years. County burglaries, which have been mainly level the last five years, dropped 10 percent in 2013 from 2012.

When Elyria burglaries increased 14 percent in 2012 from 2011, Police Chief Duane Whitely promised to try to reduce them in 2013 by resurrecting the six-officer narcotics unit. Whitely said drug addicts frequently commit burglaries to feed their habits.

Police spokesman Capt. Chris Costantino said unit members have an “amazing” work ethic which he said contributed to the burglary decrease. However, Costantino said it was a team effort with patrol officers passing on information to detectives. “It’s just a testament to good police work,” he said.

The burglary decrease came despite a countywide prescription pill and heroin epidemic mirroring a national spike. There were a record 67 fatal overdoses in Lorain County in 2013, topping the previous record of 60 in 2012 compared to 22 in 2011.

Elyria police didn’t provide a breakdown of 2013 drug seizures, but said the unit had seized $900,000 worth of drugs since March 2013. Lorain police heroin seizures in 2013 were 342 percent higher than in 2010.

While higher drug seizures often indicate more drug use, police caution that seizure statistics can be misleading. Significant annual increases or decreases are often due to large individual seizures. A 17-kilo cocaine seizure in Lorain in 2012, for example, ballooned seizure numbers.

The Sheriff’s Office saw a significant drop in seizures in 2013. Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh said the drop doesn’t reflect less drug use or less aggressive policing. “It doesn’t mean there haven’t been more buys than those other years, it’s just that we were luckier getting kilos,” he said.

Like drug seizure numbers, overall crime statistics can be misleading. The opening of a big-box store can create an annual spike in thefts, or a spate of trash fires can inflate the number of annual arsons.

And statistics reflect only reported crimes. Some crime victims or witnesses to crimes may not report them due to frustration over police responses or fear of repercussions from criminals.

However, area crime statistics reflect a record national drop over the last 25 years. The trend is continuing. Both violent and property crime decreased 5.4 percent nationally in the first six months of 2013, compared with the same time period in 2012, according to FBI statistics.

While at historic lows, many people believe crime is higher than it is. Crime analyst Eric Jefferis, a Kent State University associate professor of social and behavioral sciences, said television — saturated with police shows depicting violent crimes — contributes to the misperception.

Jefferis said a combination of population trends — criminals are less likely to commit crimes as they age — more police and improved police tactics have contributed to the drop. Jefferis said police are more likely to use computerized crime statistics to track trends and devote resources. “They’re more efficient and effective because they’re moving to data-driven decision-making,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

Drug Seizures

Elyria
(Statistics not provided)

Lorain
2010
Cocaine: 1,800 grams
Heroin: 130 grams
Marijuana: 11,136 grams

2011
Cocaine: 138 grams
Heroin: 361 grams
Marijuana: 3,173 grams

2012
Cocaine: 17,596 grams
Heroin: 489 grams
Marijuana: 4,399 grams

2013
Cocaine: 798 grams
Heroin: 515 grams
Marijuana: 18,960 grams

Lorain County Sheriff’s Office
2010
Cocaine: 3,349 grams
Heroin: 4,553 grams
Marijuana: 601 pounds

2011
Cocaine: 24,993 grams
Heroin: 17,349 grams
Marijuana: (seizure info unavailable)

2012
Cocaine: 12,501 grams
Heroin: 9,367 grams
Marijuana: 485 pounds

2013
Cocaine: 44 grams
Heroin: 575 grams
Marijuana: 22 pounds

SOURCES: Lorain Police Department, Lorain County Sheriffs Office