Targeted policing credited for Augusta crime drop

Targeted community policing has led to a reduction in some Richmond County crimes during the first seven months of 2011, sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles said Monday.

Violent crimes, in particular, dropped. The number of homicides went down 36 percent, and aggravated assaults fell 23 percent, according to figures for the first seven months of the year.

Peebles credited a 19-month undercover sting for reducing gun crimes. Operation Fox Hunt took nearly 200 guns off the streets, he said.

Armed robberies of people were down 43 percent, but commercial robberies rose 35 percent after a string of 26 robberies in January.

The year began with a four-year high in the number of burglaries; there were more than 400 burglaries reported in both September and November. Through July, the number of burglaries for the year – 1,970 – exceeded the total for 20101,939.

Records also show the number of burglaries generally dropping when compared with 2010, and Peebles expects that trend to continue. In July, for instance, there were 128 fewer burglaries than in the same month in 2010.

Peebles said the burglary task force formed at the beginning of the year has made an impact on those crimes. The task force is a small group of selected deputies who patrol only a specific area or neighborhood that has been hard-hit by burglaries.

In addition, investigators have been assigned geographical beats and exclusively work the burglaries in that beat, Peebles said. That includes meeting with neighborhood watch groups to gain information and encourage residents to report burglaries.

“That helps on the preventative side of things,” Peebles said.

The crime that went up the most was child molestation, which experienced a 22 percent increase, compared with this time last year.

By the numbers

                                        2010        2011*     Change

Commercial robbery     48             65           +17

Armed robbery              184          104         -80

Aggravated assault        169          130         -39

Rape                                  44           51            +7

Murder                             19            12            -7

Burglary                         1,939       1,970       +31

Narcotics                           936        871           -65

* Through July