MATTOON - Major crimes were down in Mattoon during 2010, but arrests were up.
Crime statistics in Mattoon showed 577 incidents of criminal offenses, a decrease of 66 compared to the total of 643 recorded in 2009, based on figures released this week by Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson.
F4ewer thefts were reported in Mattoon last year: 323, down by 71 compared to 394 during 2009. Officers made 122 arrests for thefts last year, slightly above the total of 118 in 2009.
"You can see that fluctuation in theft cases from year to year. We might make an arrest and one guy was responsible for a lot of thefts. So that will change the totals for that year," said Branson, who took the reins as Mattoon Police Chief in 2010.
Burglaries were also down, from 146 in 2009 to 141 in 2010. There were also fewer motor vehicle thefts, 22 last year, three less than the 25 in 2009. Arrests were up for car thefts with 11 in 2010, compared to only three in 2009. There were 30 burglary arrests during both years.
There were five robberies and four arrests during 2010, compared to six of those crimes and five arrests during 2009.
There was an increase in violent crime counting aggravated assault or battery, criminal sexual assault and murder.
Two people were killed in murder cases in May and December. Arrests were made in both cases. The city had no murder cases during 2009.
Criminal sexual assault cases nearly doubled in 2010 with 21 cases filed and three arrests made. During 2009, there were 12 such sexual assault cases and one arrest made.
Aggravated assault was up slightly, 63 in 2010, compared to 60 in 2009. There was a wider gap between the arrests in this category: 27 last year and 37 in 2009.
Are there trends from these statistics? Branson said it is hard to pin anything down for a comparison of two years.
"One of a big concerns this past year has been the economy and how it might produce more crime. But when you look at the thefts and burglaries there has not been as much of a change as you'd expect," Branson said.
Drug crime arrests were also down. During 2009, MPD officers recorded 108 drug-related arrests, but in 2010 there were 51.
Branson said this reflects on the accomplishments of the East Central Illinois Task Force in recent years. That group combines the efforts of law officers from different agencies to fight the drug traffic.
"I believe the credit should go to the Task Force on those figures. They have done a great job in curbing meth here. Once we were taking down a meth lab every week. Now, you see a lab raid over a few months' time. The state law on the cold medicine has also helped there, too."
Mattoon officers responded to 21,354 calls during 2010, down considerably from the 33,509 calls in 2009.
Branson said the department was short-handed in different ways during 2010. Two patrol officers were laid off last spring (one of the officers was eventually rehired to fill a vacancy created by a veteran officer's retirement). The other manpower shortage was created by several officers with injuries or surgeries.
"Last year was an extremely rough one for us with so many officers out with injuries. At one point we had four officers out. But I am proud of how the officers rallied and answered calls or worked to get things done," Branson said.
Murder 0 2
Sexual Assault 12 21
Robbery 6 5
Assault/Battery 60 63
Burglary 146 141
Theft 394 323
Vehicle Theft 25 22
Total Crimes 643 577
Contact Herb Meeker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-6869.