Crime Tracker: Ellensburg sees fewer home burglaries & car prowls

Crime Tracker: Ellensburg sees fewer home burglaries & car prowls
ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- There's been a significant drop in some crimes in Ellensburg: those that affect you and your belongings, like home burglaries and car prowls.

KIMA found a nearly 40 percent drop in both home burglaries and car prowls last year. Ellensburg police say now that they're back to a full staff, they can be more proactive in their approaches. This means they can have more officers on patrol overnight when these calls come in the most.

Kayla Lockhart knows what it's like to have an intruder in your home. One night, she found a strange drunk man in her roommates' bed.

"I went and grabbed my rifle, and I jabbed him a little bit and told him that he needed to wake up or we were going to call the cops on him," said Lockhart. "He wasn't waking up, and we realized that he was just too drunk to function, and we called the cops and had them come and deal with him."

Kayla says she feels lucky that none of her possessions were taken. She suspects the intruder came in through a door that didn't lock properly.

Ellensburg police are working to reduce crimes like these. They've started a new swing shift, which puts more officers on the streets between 3 in the afternoon and 3 in the morning. And, the officers are being more proactive.

"So that might mean good old fashioned foot beat, get out of the car, walk around those dark complexes, parking lots, businesses. That may mean plain clothes and unmarked cars on patrol," said Captain Dan Hansberry, who oversees the Patrol Division.

KIMA pulled the numbers and found these new approaches seem to be working. Home burglaries dropped from 120 in 2012 to 76 last year.
Car prowls also dropped from 239 to 149. Along with this, arrests for stolen properties dropped more than 50 percent, from 62 to 28.

The extra patrols have also helped the usual jump in break-ins at apartment complexes when college students leave the area during breaks from school.

"When I called the cops when that guy was in our house, they were there in less than five minutes, so it's nice to know that they're so close and that they can respond really quickly," said Lockhart.

More patrols helping locals like Kayla feel safer.

Full staff for the Ellensburg Police Department is 29 officers. After turnover in past years it took the department a while to get back to full speed, since it takes about 18 months before new officers are allowed to work alone.