Jon L. Hendricks |The Times Porter County Sheriff's
Deputy Kevin Van Kley calls in a traffic stop Wednesday
in Valparaiso. A report released by the department shows
major crime in unincorporated Porter County occurred
less in 2008 than the previous year.
Crime down in unincorporated Porter
By Ken Kosky| Friday, March 13, 2009
In these tough economic times, Porter County Sheriff
David Lain will gladly accept a drop in crime, even if
it's a small one.
The department's 2008 annual report shows there were
1,318 "major" crimes, nine fewer than 2007.
There was one homicide -- the Dec. 19 robbery and
killing of convenience store clerk Barbara Heckman --
the same number as 2007. Rapes, robberies, assaults and
vehicle thefts all decreased.
Burglaries edged up slightly and thefts increased. But
police say the theft category probably would not have
increased had it not been for two men who have been
charged with stealing as many as 80 catalytic converters
off of vehicles.
Lain said the statistics show what he said he already
knew: Porter County is a safe place.
"We're very proud of the level of service our police
officers give every day and every night. ... People do
feel safe," Lain said, adding that is a double-edged
sword. Lain said thefts would decrease if people would
lock their cars and get valuables out of plain view.
Arrests increased significantly from 1,063 in 2007 to
1,198 in 2008. Traffic tickets and warnings also
increased, going from 9,423 to 10,057.
The statistics are for the unincorporated areas of
Porter County that are served by the Sheriff's
Department and do not include crime in cities and towns.
Lain believes the economy is less likely to turn
law-abiding people into thieves than it is to cause some
people to turn to alcohol to deal with their stress. The
statistics show drunken driving arrests nearly doubled
Another interesting statistic is that evictions
increased from 841 in 2007 to 1,038 in 2008, and
sheriff's sales increased from 493 to 603. They're on a
torrid pace so far in 2009, and Lain believes the
economy is to blame.
Lain said the department undertook initiatives in 2008
and has new crime-fighting programs in 2009, like the
"Look Out For Each Other" program that will be similar
to Neighborhood Watch programs.
Police plan to meet with school superintendents in April
to form a partnership to keep students safe at school,
on buses and after school. 2006 2007 2008
Murder 0 1 1
Rape 1 3 2
Robbery 6 6 2
Assault 295 276 239
Burglary 167 208 211
Theft 907 740 823
Vehicle theft 80 93 40
Total 1,456 1,327 1,318
Source: Porter County Sheriff's Department
Jon L. Hendricks | The Times
Porter County Sheriff Deputy Kevin Van Kley gets out of
his patrol car during a traffic stop of a speeding
minivan Wednesday in Valparaiso.