Paradise Valley police reports spike in residential burglaries

Paradise Valley Police Department headquarters are at 6433 E. Lincoln Drive. (File photo)

Paradise Valley Police Department headquarters are at 6433 E. Lincoln Drive. (File photo)

There have been 45 reported residential burglaries within Paradise Valley town limits so far this year — the majority of those occurred without the use of force to gain access to private property.

About 55 percent or 25 of the reported 45 residential burglaries have been classified as “no-force entry” by the Paradise Valley Police Department. Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert says that trend is something he intends to change.

Peter Wingert

Peter Wingert

“The bulk of our burglaries continue to occur at unsecured, unalarmed (or not set) residences,” he said in an Aug. 13 written response to e-mailed questions. “Residential burglaries are the most visible crime that we have in the Town of Paradise Valley. We have seen an increase in residential burglaries in 2015 in comparison to 2014 numbers.”

The issue of easy access to Paradise Valley homes is nothing new, Independent archives state.

The Paradise Valley Police Department reported there were 75 residential burglaries between March 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015 — and 37 of those were reported as no-force entry, which means no locks were picked, windows broken or doors kicked in.

While property crime per capita remains low, Chief Wingert says year-to-date numbers show a concerning uptick to residential burglaries within Paradise Valley town limits.

“The increase in incidents of residential burglaries is a concern, although the property crime rate is still far below our neighboring cities,” he said. “The increase from last year’s numbers to this year’s numbers is of concern.”

Town officials say the creation of the public safety advisory committee will help educate residents about better safety practices specific to residential burglaries.

The purpose of the advisory committee is to create conversation between town residents and town staff about the police department and about other public safety concerns, states resolution 1330.

Town council passed the advisory committee in a 5-1 vote at the March 27 town hall meeting. According to the resolution, the advisory committee will serve to create dialogue on public safety concerns such as prevention, enforcement, awareness, and community and victim outreach.

Six town residents will be nominated by the mayor to serve as members on the advisory committee, each serving a two year term. One town councilmember, appointed by the council, will serve as chairperson, the resolution states.

“I have always had the position that one crime is one crime too many in Paradise Valley,” said Paradise Valley councilwoman Maria Syms in an Aug. 12 phone interview. “We can talk about numbers and statistics but when it happens to you it is 100 percent. Communication is one of the top items on the agenda when the advisory committee meets later this month.”

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins earlier this summer appointed Councilwoman Syms to chairman of the advisory committee.

“Now more than ever we need for our residents to be locking their doors, setting their alarms and reporting suspicious activity,” she said. “One possible reason we may be seeing an increase in reported crimes is due to our community outreach efforts and awareness efforts. Residents feel more comfortable reporting the burglaries. But the more important focus is what we are doing about it. This involves a multifaceted approach that includes law enforcement and residents.”

Maria Syms

Maria Syms

Councilwoman Syms points to an Oct. 24 public safety fair hosted by the Town of Paradise Valley as a step toward improving mass communication between police department and resident.

“It will enable us to increase awareness as the idea behind it is to get more neighbors involved,” she explained. “The police department is doing everything it can in terms of technology, but we know that our residents are the first line of defense.”

While burglaries will remain a fact of life, Chief Wingert contends the community he is now charged with protecting is a safe one.

“The Town of Paradise Valley is a very safe community,” he said. “In 2015, Value Penguin analyzed the crime statistics of 55 municipalities in Arizona.  Paradise Valley rated No. 6 overall. Of municipalities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 residents, Paradise Valley was in the top four.”

Through nationwide reporting through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, Paradise Valley crime remains one of the lowest in the state, Chief Wingert says.

“Our neighbors, Phoenix and Scottsdale, were rated No. 49 and No. 27 respectively,” he said of the UCR data study. “Paradise Valley and Gilbert (No. 8) are the only two municipalities in the Valley within the top 10 in this study, which is based on UCR data.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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