A new report ranks Springfield as a city with one of the highest burglary rates in the country but local police say break-ins have dropped significantly in recent years.
The report, “Burglary Odds Across America,” was released by ADT Security Services this week. It uses FBI crime statistics from 2015 to show the states and cities where people are at most risk of burglary.
Springfield is listed as the city with the 5th most burglaries per 1,000 people in the country. Springfield’s burglary rate is 17.5 per 1,000 people, the report says, while the No. 1 city, Lake Charles, La., has a rate of 21 burglaries per 1,000 people.
But the ranking doesn’t reflect the trend in local burglaries, Springfield Police Division Capt. Mike Varner said, which have been steadily declining.
“From 2011 through 2016, over the last five years, burglaries have been going down,” Varner said, “and in fact, from 2011 to 2016 burglaries are down 40 percent.”
In 2011, the city saw 1,615 break-ins, according to data from the Springfield Police Division. That number has been declining since 2011. In 2016, Springfield reported about 960 burglaries.
The break-ins are likely motivated by drugs, Varner said.
“A lot of burglaries are related directly to drugs,” he said. “Persons who are out trying to fund their drug habits.”
The ADT report says about 50 percent of burglaries are motivated by drugs.
The city’s ranking is sad to residents like Rick James. He lives next door to a home on Cookston Avenue that was burglarized earlier this year.
“It concerns me for my family and I certainly want them to be safe,” James said.
He takes safety precautions to prevent a burglary but he said he refuses to live in fear.
“I try to be pretty open to people as much as I can and I don’t want things like that to change me or how I treat people,” he said.
Burglaries happen when people are desperate, James said, and he believes the community should do something to let people know they have somewhere to turn for support.
“We need to be a community that can come together and be open and honest with each other on these things,” he said, “and help people who are addicts to feel like they can come forward and get help.”
People can help prevent break-ins at their home, Varner said.
“Make sure that they keep their doors and windows locked,” he said. “If it’s nighttime, turn on outdoor lighting.”
Residents should also cut trees and shrubs around windows, he said, and be careful of the trash left on the curb.
“We’re entering the holiday shopping season so it’d be a wise idea that if you get something new, don’t leave the boxes outside that advertise to burglars, ‘Hey, we’ve got new stuff in here so stop in and check us out,’” he said.
If anyone sees anything suspicious around their home, Varner said it should be reported to Springfield Police at 937-324-7680.
By the numbers
5th: Rank in U.S. cities for burglaries by ADT
17.5: Burglaries reported in Springfield per 1,000 people
40 percent: Drop in burglaries in Springfield since 2011
1,615: Break-ins reported in Springfield in 2011
963: Burglaries reported in Springfield in 2016
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important stories about public safety issues, including recent coverage of how the overdose epidemic has strained police and fire forces and efforts to combine separate city and county 9-1-1 dispatch centers.