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20130702 MPD Crime Vehicle CAB 0003MISSION—Mission Police Interim Police Chief Robert Dominguez said crime rates in the City of Mission are continuing to decrease because more citizens are getting involved and are calling the station. The overall city crime rates have continued to decrease since 2009.

In 2009, the total crimes reported to the state were 3,549. Last year, Mission Police Department recorded 2,479 crimes. The crimes reported include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft.

Cities that have high crime rates are eligible for grants to use for programs that help deter crime. Because of the dropping numbers, Mission has not qualified for the grants the past two years.

“I’m glad to be able to say that,” said Dominguez. “I’d rather not have the money and (have) the lower crime rate.”

Still, he said, people are being affected by crime.

The total crimes for this year, as of April, are 939. The highest crime rates are in larceny crimes, which consist of the small thefts that can be prevented.

In 2012, Mission Police Department had three murders, seven rapes, 46 robbery cases, 51 aggravated assaults, and 424 burglary, 1,787 larceny and 161 auto theft cases. In 2011, there were two murders, six rapes, 37 robbery cases, 55 aggravated assaults, and 464 burglary, 2,094 larceny and 193 auto theft cases, for a total of 2,851 crimes in 2011.

So far this year, there have been zero murders and rapes, 10 robbery cases, 12 aggravated assaults, and 160 burglary, 699 larceny and 58 auto theft cases.

The chief said he wants to put a real emphasis on burglary, larceny and auto theft crimes. These are crimes where the criminals are usually just looking for the perfect opportunity. Opportunities can include an open garage, a purse or iPad left in a vehicle, or tools and bikes left in the front yard or driveway, said Dominguez. These property crimes affect the majority of the population.

20130705 MPD-Crime-StatisticsIt’s sad to say, said Dominguez, that crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault usually occur between family members or friends.

The department has started visiting pawn shops again. He said they had slipped on regularly going to pawn shops and thought it was something they needed to start working on again. Through these visits, officers have been able to locate items that have been stolen, leading to arrests and closed cases.

“We have to make an effort,” said Dominguez. “If you let it go, it will explode on you.” He said about letting burglaries go unnoticed or unsolved.

Dominguez does not want to take credit for the decrease in crime rates. He says it has a lot to do with the public, with them getting involved and not being afraid to call the police. Citizens are starting to request more of us, he said.

National Night Out is planned for August 6, he said. This is a time when we encourage neighborhood residents to become a part of a neighborhood watch program and getting citizens to watch out for each other.

More calls is something new, said Dominguez. Calls come in with a citizen questioning what happened down the street or next door. They want to know what is going on in their neighborhood. These citizens are then taking their protection in their own hands and preparing, making sure their security system is working and aren’t leaving opportunities out in the open for criminals.

Dominguez said the growth of the city – new development on the west and north sides of the city – could lead to an increase in crimes, but so far the city’s crime stats have been good.

Dominguez advises residents to always store their belongings indoors and not leave anything of value out in the open or plain view. Some of these criminals go around looking for opportunities, going from vehicle to vehicle, to find the right one to break into, said Dominguez. In fact, a woman’s purse was stolen from her vehicle while she attended church this past weekend.

“Keep stuff in your garage,” remember to close your garage and put stuff away after doing yard work, added Dominguez. “Take precautions.”

“They are looking for the perfect opportunity,” he said.

Recently, the department purchased another nine Tahoes. The city paid for the vehicles while the department used federal drug forfeiture funds to pay for the equipment. Now the department will have a total of 14 Tahoes out on the road. The Tahoes allow officers to cover areas and terrain the smaller department vehicles can’t get to.

“There will be more marked units out there,” he said.

Also new is a second sky watch tower that will be used at business districts, parks and at city events. A federal grant supplied $73,000 for the tower, while the department used about $38,000 from their drug forfeiture account towards the purchase.

Dominguez said these tools help put more eyes and officers out in the community.

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