AR city sees dramatic reduction in thefts - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

AR city sees dramatic reduction in thefts

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – The crime rate in Harrisburg in Poinsett County is heading in the right direction, Police Chief Butch Davis said. Despite a slow economy, the number of thefts, break-ins and residential burglaries dropped in 2010 compared to 2009. The number of thefts dropped by half.

"Our burglaries, break-ins and thefts were all down, anywhere from 25% to 50-60%," said Davis. "Our drug arrests, felony arrests were all up 15-20%."

Davis said he was surprised the number of theft-related cases dropped in a down year; however, he said a change of policy may have helped.

"When I pulled my night officers after nine or ten o'clock, I pulled them off the highway and put them on the back streets," said Davis. "They're doing more patrolling on the back roads and the city streets and I think that had something to do with it."

According to Davis' crime comparison, Harrisburg Police worked more accidents and wrote more traffic citations in 2010 than 2009. The overall calls for service dropped as well. He believes a heavier police presence within the city may have deterred criminals.

"A lot of them were out of automobiles, people leaving their cars unlocked, leaving the keys in them. We had four young men that we arrested. They got into six cars in one night and stole stereos out of them," said Davis. "We worked one about three months ago. We're still working on it, but we feel like it's an inside job. We had an office building broken into and the safe was taken."

However, Davis said residents could help keep the crime rate down by implementing neighborhood watches.

"We tried to start one several years ago. We didn't get much response out of it. A lot of people don't want to get involved. As long as it doesn't affect them, they want to be left out of it," said Davis.

"Those folks are still out there, so neighborhood watch, if we can get the people involved in it, it's going to go a long way in keeping the crime rate down," said Harrisburg Mayor Randy Mills. "They're turning the head and looking the other way. Call the police and report it to them anonymously."

Mills said the fact the crime rate is down is a selling point for his city. It should help economic officials land more job-creating companies, Mills said.

"It's a good thing. I'm glad. If I'm mayor of John Q. Citizen, I'm glad that the crime rates are down," said Mills. "If we make it tough enough on them folks, then maybe they won't hang around here and that's what we want to do."

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