With property crimes on the rise, police stress awareness and vigilance in keeping belongings safe

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Officer Manny Herrera said it is a challenge to police the community when not all crimes are reported. A topic on the lips of many Sandy residents lately is how their small town has changed.

With its growth, Sandy has seen both negative and positive differences. One of the former is an increase in crime.

"When you add people to a community you're going to have more crimes," explained Sandy Police Chief Ernie Roberts. "The number one issue we deal with in Sandy is theft."

Between 2015 and 2016, property crimes accounted for 28.28 percent of crimes reported in Sandy, and within the last year that percentage rose to 30.88. Property crimes include any crime outside of assault, traffic infractions, sex crimes or disorderly conduct.

In the past month, 30 of the 98 police reports involved a property crime.

"In my experience, a lot of thefts also have another dependency factor in there," Roberts added. "These dependency issues are driving this criminal activity. It's sad. How do you combat that too? It's something police agencies across the state and nation have been discussing for some time."

A few of these thefts are acts of shoplifting from businesses, the occasional stolen phone or wallet, but Roberts said numerous thefts in Sandy have been thefts from vehicles, many of which were unlocked.

"A lot of these crimes are of opportunity," Roberts explained. "We have very few home invasion-type burglaries, thankfully. (We recommend) locking your vehicles, not keeping your windows down."

Roberts also recommended making sure to take valuables out of your car or keep them out of plain sight. Recently, firearms have been reported as stolen from vehicles.

"It's a real concern for us," Roberts explained. "(That stolen firearm) could be in the hands of someone we have a problem with, and that's a safety issue for my officers."

With recent campaigns to grow and create new neighborhood watch organizations, Sgt. Sean Lundry noted that "awareness of the overall (theft) problem is larger now."

"From the awareness we're getting calls from hotspots we've found," Lundry added. "We're using our available resources to keep an eye on those areas."

"When we target those locations, the people in the neighborhood have been really good," Roberts added. "They call. By their calls we are able to remove (criminals) from our community. It seems like basic information, but it's so important. We want people to call when they see something suspicious or their vehicle gets broken into."

Both officers noted that it is not enough to simply post about an event on Facebook or other social media. Many more than what's reflected in the weekly tally of property crimes go unreported.

"We need their help," Roberts said. "We can't do this on our own. Without the community's help, it's an uphill battle."

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