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Santa Fe Home Burglaries Decrease When Burglars Stay in Jail

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March 27, 2012
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Santa Fe Home Burglaries Decrease When Burglars Stay in Jail

Crime statistics show several consistent trends over the past several years: gradual decreases in most types of crime, but a corresponding increase in residential crime. Even in those few jurisdictions where residential crime has gone down, it has gone down the least of any criminal activity. And that means more burglars across the US are more active, which is fueling the rise in home security sales. In fact, there are roughly 2 million new home alarm systems purchased every year – and that number is growing. And some interesting statistics from Santa Fe, New Mexico show that keeping known burglars off the streets is one key to increasing peace of mind for homeowners.

Statistics suggest that property crime within both the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County has dropped in 2011, compared to the record-high number of burglaries experienced in 2010. "We're confident our numbers will be below what they were a year ago," said Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia.

Fighting the National Trend in Increased Burglaries

“We've seen some bad months lately, but I'm able to start assigning some overtime again over the next couple of months through the holidays," the sheriff said. "I'm pretty confident our numbers will be better at the end of the year than what happened in 2010. Our guys have been working hard to get these numbers down, and they're doing a real good job."

City in Worse Shape than County

In 2010, Santa Fe [City] police were besieged with a total of 2,291 burglary reports. Through Oct. 31 of that year, the department had received 1,938 burglary reports, compared to 1,579 reports through Oct. 31 of this year. Until October, the Santa Fe Police Department's monthly burglary figures had been down overall in each month of 2011 compared to each month in 2010. Then, in October, the department saw a fairly significant uptick in reports at a time when colder weather conditions would normally prompt a drop in burglary figures.

Recent Increases Explained

Both the city and the County have seen a slight increase in burglaries in August, September and October of 2011 compared to the same months in 2010. The reason is clear to those working the cases. Sgt. Peter Neal said, "First off, even the improved numbers of this year aren't close to where I want to see them be. But we had been doing better for a while, and we keep a list of known repeat offenders and have been really following these guys. For whatever reason, these repeat offenders we had been doing a real good job of arresting, have been getting out once again.

Police Doing Their Homework

Neal and his department earlier this year compiled a list, with booking mug shots, of 100 known repeat property crime offenders in the Santa Fe area. He said that at one point in late September, 42 of those individuals were locked up in the Santa Fe County jail on various charges. On Thursday afternoon, Neal checked the Santa Fe County jail website and learned only 27 of those top 100 offenders were in jail.

Keeping Bad Guys off the Street

Said Neal, "If we can consistently see 50 to 60 percent of that list in jail, I think we'd really be doing good. But when I update their whereabouts and see that just 27 percent of them are in jail, that's a problem. And I don't think it's entirely a coincidence that the numbers started creeping back up." Every person on the department's burglary top-100 list has multiple arrests in the Santa Fe area for property crimes, and the vast majority have multiple convictions as well.

Focus on Repeat Offenders

Garcia said the [County] sheriff's office can show the vast majority of property crimes in the county are not committed by first-time offenders, but people his deputies have been dealing with for years. "I know that our guys — and I know, too, that those guys at the city — they're all busting their butts getting a lot of these guys arrested, booked and charged," Garcia said. "But they continue finding their way out [of jail], and they're doing the same things over and over. We're repeatedly having to deal with the same individuals over and over again, and as long as that's happening, the [property crime] statistics won't ever go down as much as we'd like them to."

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