Coppell Police Chief Danny Barton urges residents not to fall into the same trap many people do – being complacent.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting Barton updated the council on crime trends in the area. He shared a conversation officers have with crime victims that’s all too common in Coppell.
“We hear this a lot, and I hate to say this, but we go and take these reports and the citizen says, ‘but I’m in Coppell,’” Barton said. “I’m glad you feel that safe, but crime still happens in Coppell.”
Barton said while the number of major crime incidents remains low in Coppell it’s the Part I crimes, such as burglary and theft, that can often experience upward trends. He said that’s where residents can do their part.
Barton said data shows more theft cases than other incidents. In each month this year there have been at least 23 theft incidents, whereas there have been nine cases or fewer in all other crimes each month.
He said the reason the theft numbers are so high is because so many crimes go into that category. Those include fraud, shoplifting, burglary of a motor vehicle (BMV) and theft of service.
But BMVs have been the biggest driver, Barton said.
Barton said BMV cases went up from 194 in 2019 to 246 in 2020. He said BMVs in 2020 represented 42 percent of theft cases in 2020.
So far in 2021 the numbers are trending down with 59 BMVs year to date compared to 102 for the same time period last year.
Still, they’re a factor. In February and May of this year BMVs accounted for 44 percent of all theft reports.
“Burglary of a motor vehicle is the single category we have the most crimes in,” Barton said, adding that BMVs include instances where someone may enter a car without permission even if they don’t steal anything.
Barton said of all of the BMVs in 2020, 79 percent of them took place because the vehicle was unlocked.
“That’s really where we want to educate this community because 80 to 90 percent of the time if they grab the door handle and shake it and it’s locked they just move on,” Barton said.
He said only 12 percent of the time the suspects smash the window.
“If we would lock our car doors, we could substantially reduce these numbers,” Barton said.
Barton said the BMVs can come in waves. For example, in January there were seven reported but 24 in February. He said one night of targeting a certain area can make the numbers increase dramatically.
Barton said it’s also important for residents to take their belongings with them. “We are going to do our best to educate our community,” Barton said.
Other incidents that impact theft numbers are burglary, and Barton reminded the council that a burglary can be something as simple as a person walking into someone’s open garage and taking an item.
“We don’t have a lot of burglaries where they actually smash the windows and go in,” Barton said. “We had a few pharmacies experience that, but again it’s two or three.”
The chief said there has also been a spike in thefts of catalytic converters off vehicles with 48 so far this year. He said those thefts and BMVs represent 58 percent of the total thefts this year.
Barton said home deliveries through companies such as Amazon have also contributed to the rising theft numbers.
Overall, Barton said, Coppell’s crime numbers are low. He said that can make it difficult to apply statistics for policing since it’s a small sample size. Barton said the city would need to have approximately 30 incidents a week to have enough data to base its approach on numbers. He said Coppell barely has two incidents a day.
“Our numbers in Coppell crime wise are very low, and we can’t apply the typical predictive model statistics that you’ll hear bigger cities talk about, data-driven policing,” Barton said.
That just makes community partnerships that much more important, he said.
Barton said the department relies on proactive policing by posting crime prevention tips on social media, hosting town hall meetings and participating in National Night Out.
Barton said in addition to community policing there are other aspects to Coppell that make it safe. Those include economic vitality, places of spirituality, nice parks, good libraries, good schools, arts opportunities and volunteer programs that bring in diversity. Barton said Coppell has that.
“It’s safe, but we can make it safer and can make it safer for everybody,” Barton said. “But we have to keep our eye on the ball that … it’s not just the police. It’s everything the city does as a whole.”