BY FREDA MIKLIN
It is constantly in the news that crime has gone up since the beginning of the pandemic nationally, statewide and locally. The Villager wanted to see what the actual data showed for two cities in our area, Greenwood Village and Cherry Hills Village.
The cities are different in that GV has a significant business component, whereas CHV does not. That impacts the number of people in each city because many of the people who work in GV businesses come into the city and leave each day. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, CHV has a permanent population of 6,442, compared to GV’s of 15,611. Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that as many as 40,000 people came into GV daily to work. It is not known how many of those people have returned and how many are still, permanently, or partly working from home. Lastly, cities report their crime statistics based on categories that they believe are meaningful. We report the data that is available.
Burglary is the act of entering a building illegally with the intent to commit a crime, often theft, but it is still burglary if nothing is actually stolen. In Greenwood Village, burglaries went down from 114 in 2020 to 84 in 2021, a decrease of 26%. In Cherry Hills Village, burglaries increased in 2021 over 2020 from 15 to 25. Although that is a 67% increase, that statistic is an example of how the use of percentages can be misleading instead of helpful when the numbers being compared are small. Of the 25 burglaries in CHV in 2021, three occurred in December and all are inactive cases, according to CHV police. In two cases, garages that were entered were left open and in the third, the victim declined to prosecute.
In Greenwood Village, the most significant increase in crime in 2021 from 2020 was in the category of auto theft, which went from 128 to 212. In this case, the rate of increase of 66% is significant. In an article in The Villager on February 3, we reported that the head of a statewide auto theft task force had reported earlier that 90% of cars stolen in Colorado are recovered by law enforcement.
GV is now tracking data on stolen cars recovered in the city, but they include vehicles that were stolen in other locations. What we do know is that, based on the fact that the Arapahoe County Jail was reticent to take in new inmates during the pandemic to avoid COVID in its population, as the pandemic took hold, GV turned its focus to preventing crime and began instituting significant new data-driven procedures to catch would-be perpetrators in the act. With those efforts, they have successfully prevented a large number of crimes including car theft that don’t show up in the data because they weren’t completed.
Other thefts in GV also rose from 429 in 2020 to 675 in 2021.
While that also reflects a significant 57% increase, general theft is a tricky category because it could involve anything from a purse stolen from a clothing store fitting room or office desk when the owner walks away to an item of jewelry that a homeowner can’t locate and believes they know for sure where they last saw it. Thus a reported theft may or may not reflect that an actual crime took place. In addition to someone stealing something of value, a theft report could also result from a misunderstanding in a household or an inaccurate memory.
The number of thefts reported in CHV that were not from vehicles or involving mail rose from 33 in 2020 to 37 in 2021. Of the 37, seven occurred in December and six of those were of packages stolen from front porches. There were also seven vehicles that were reported as having been entered unlawfully in CHV in December, of which six were unlocked.
Robbery is a very serious crime that occurs when someone takes property from another person by force or the threat of force. GV data indicates there were nine reported robberies in 2020 and 13 in 2021.
GV police issued 7,138 traffic citations in 2021, compared to 6,982 in 2020, an increase of 2%. Traffic accidents in GV increased from 819 to 908 in that same period. In CHV, which doesn’t report the specific number of accidents, the total number of traffic citations increased 34% between 2020 and 2021, from 2,529 to 3,379. CHV also reports DUI arrests, which increased from 13 in 2020 to 17 in 2021. GV does not report DUI arrests separately on its monthly city manager’s report.