Burglaries, Robberies Spark Sharp Increase in Crime in Tewksbury
Total call volume has jumped 35 percent over two years.
Tewksbury Police officers aren’t writing nearly as many parking and speeding tickets as they used to.
They don't have time.
According to department statistics, TPD officers responded to 35,923 calls (nearly 100 a day) in 2010. That's an increase of 18.6 percent over 2009 and a jump of more than 35 percent over 2008.
Driving that increase are spikes in robbery (up 90 percent over 2009), burglary (up 30 percent), theft from vehicles (up 34 percent), credit card fraud (up 32 percent), theft from buildings (up 35 percent) and forgery (up 38 percent).
According to Police Chief Timothy Sheehan, it’s not difficult to determine a trend and see the common denominator.
“The economy has driven crime rates off the charts,” said Sheehan. “And it’s not just in Tewksbury. When you have a bad economy, more people out of work, you have an increase in these types of crimes.”
According to Sheehan, the connection goes beyond desperate people trying to pay their bills. He said there is a direct connection between a poor economy, increased levels of depression among the population, which can lead to increased addictions, which fuels an increase in criminal activity.
Tewksbury Police are not only responding to crimes, they are also solving them, meaning that the case load for the Investigations Department has increased significantly as well. Arrests have increased from 480 in 2008 to 573 in 2009 to 623 in 2010. That’s an increase of 30 percent in two years.
To proactively combat this increase, Sheehan has mandated an increase in patrols. The number of building checks has increased 34 percent in the last year and nearly 100 percent since 2008.
However, with an increase in crime has not come an increase in manpower. A department that once had slots for 59 officers now has just 54 and two of those positions are presently vacant. According to Sheehan, staffing levels are at their lowest since 2004.
As a result, Sheehan now has nine officers on duty per shift, rather than the usual 10. One resource the department has tapped into more often is Mutual Aid from other communities.
Still, with limited manpower and increased crime levels, priorities have to be set. One area that has been cut back somewhat is the number of traffic patrols. According to the department statistics, officers wrote 4,367 citations in 2010, that’s a drop of more than 20 percent over 2009, though still up significantly from 2008.
Additional crime categories that saw large increases in 2010:
- Malicious destruction of property up 32 percent
- Simple assault up 35 percent
- Statutory rape up from 0 incidents to 6 incidents
- Narcotics violations up 48 percent
A complete breakdown of the 2010 Tewksbury crime statistics can be found in the charts below.
|Offense Type||2008||2009||2010||Percent Change|
|Theft From Building||53||68||85||35%|
|Theft From Vehicle||142||138||194||41%|
|Theft of Vehicle Parts||5||4||3||-25%|
|Thefts All Other||168||228||306||34%|
|Credit Card Fraud||10||22||29||32%|
|Destruction of Property||214||211||278||32%|
|Driving Under Influence||29||42||40||-5%|
|Family Offense, Nonviolent||5||11||0||-100%|
|Liquor Law Violations||25||28||17||39%|
|All Other Offenses||306||405||453||12%|