On Monday, Newton County Sheriff’s Department released the crime statistics for 2013.

On Monday, Newton County Sheriff’s Department released the crime statistics for 2013.

“Overall, the uniform crime numbers — thefts, burglaries, murders, car thefts, assaults, all of those crimes that we have to report — there has been a decline since 2012, we have gone down 18.9 percent,” Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said. “That is quite a reduction. I have noticed several departments in the area and tri-state area here lately have been releasing their stats, some of them have crime reduced a little bit, some have gone up a little bit.”

Some of the numbers released in the report are as follows:

• 911 hang up or abandoned calls in 2013 were at 1,377, compared to 1,122 in 2012.
“The 911 hang up calls, (some are) set cell phones, we are plagued with 911 hang up calls, there are some that still let their kids play with phones, but typically speaking they claim it was a accidental dial,” he said. “But constantly, we get those 911 calls, we have to follow up on those on every one of them.”

• Alarm calls in 2013 are 784 compared to 562 in 2012.
“The alarm calls (were a) big increase in alarm calls, 784 (in 2013), that is because more private homes are putting in alarm systems,” Copeland said. “And that is something that I would strongly encourage (to have an alarm system put in), however, get a good system and pay attention. You set one off accidentally, you call the alarm company and say, ‘it was by accident,’ we still have to follow up on that to make sure.”

When asked about the alarm calls, what is the percentage of actual versus accidental, Copeland said, “that were either accidental setoff by the homeowner or a faulty system, probably about 85-90 percent. Then the 10-15 percent is an actual deal.”

• Civil problems in 2013 were at 901 versus 926 calls in 2012.

“That is down a little bit from last year, but still that is 900 calls we made, that is not criminal, it is a civil issue,” the sheriff said.

A separate report issued by the sheriff’s department dealt with drug crimes in Newton County.

“We served a total of 24 search warrants last year,” said Copeland. “We arrested 98 people for narcotics violations in Newton County last year. And we had 18 meth labs. Meth is still a bad deal.”
As far as marijuana, Copeland noted, “we are seeing less and less of actual outdoor grows. Typically, it is going to be somebody has an indoor grow either from two or three plants to the major 1,400 plants.”

Copeland did note that one of the categories that went down was burglaries.

“Burglaries went down almost 100 (calls),” he said. “We had 315 (calls) last year (2012) and 214 this year (2013), largely from thefts from motor vehicles and stuff like that. Not only here, but also every county surrounding us, if you have a four-wheeler ATV, trailer, or ridding lawn mower, somebody is going to steal it if you don’t have it locked up. Those are hot commodities, they are quick and easy. Unfortunately, they are easy to sell, people don’t ask questions on that.”

Copeland was asked to give some advice to homeowners.

“The old standby is to keep your shrubs trimmed, keep a light on when you are gone,” he said. “Here is how the burglaries operate nowadays, they will cruise around, they will scope out a place, and they look for cars in the driveway. (Then) typically, they will go up and knock on a door. You come to the door if you are home, they (burglar) might say, ‘hey, is John Smith live here?’ then (the burglar is gone). But if you don’t come to the door, the next thing that they are going to do, they will go around back and kick your door in or throw a rock through the glass to see if an alarm would go off. If an alarm didn’t get off, they are in. they are going for guns, computers, TVs, jewelry and cash.”

Another piece of advice that the sheriff provided deals with vehicles and items in vehicles.

“Typically they (thieves) are going to look for unlocked vehicles,” he said. “If (they) bust out a window, or try to pry a door, you are going to cause some noise. Don’t leave a purse or gun or money, don’t leave that stuff out in a car that is out in the open where they can see it.”