COLUMBIA — Burglaries have increased by more than 50 percent in 2008 as compared to the same time in 2007, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Columbia Police Department.
In 2007, 487 burglaries occurred between Jan. 1 and Nov. 20. During the same 11-month period in 2008, the department reports 746 burglaries — a 53 percent increase from last year.
Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 20, the department reported a total of 138 burglaries in Columbia. Twenty-six of those burglaries were reported in northeast Columbia, near Clark Lane and Interstate 70, which is more than double most other parts of the city.
“We continue to watch these numbers, and we’re concerned about northeast Columbia,” said Sgt. Lloyd Simons, community services supervisor for the police department.
Simons said there are many factors that contributed to this increase in burglaries, such as the economic climate and overall city growth. He also said the city’s influx of students might be a factor, as students tend to be less involved in crime prevention, such as locking doors and reporting suspicious incidents.
Simons said many burglaries are committed by repeat offenders, noting that they are able to “build their skills.”
“It’s not unheard of, at times, to clear 30 to 40 burglaries at a time,” he said.
Simons made reference to an incident on Nov. 17, in which two men were arrested on suspicion of multiple burglaries at The Links at Columbia apartment complex. Police found the two to be in possession of a master key to the complex.
According to Uniform Crime reports up to Sept. 30, in Columbia 385 burglaries involved forced entries, while offenders were able to enter a building without resistance 207 times.
When compared to the spring of 2008, the current rate of burglaries is an improvement. Simons said that burglaries in Columbia increased by 87 percent in the first five months of 2008, as compared to the same period in 2007.
Simons said the clearance rate for burglaries in Columbia is 18 percent so far in 2008, up from 17 percent for the entire year of 2007.
Simons said that to combat rising burglaries, residents should become more involved in crime prevention, such as by starting neighborhood watch groups and reporting suspicious behavior.
“Continue to call us,” Simons said.