Despite a trend that shows property crimes have declined over the past three years in the Sun Cities, area residents and law enforcement officials know that as winter visitors return, the amount of crimes against property is certain to go up.
During an Oct. 16 Sun City Home Owners Association Roads and Safety Committee meeting, Sun City resident Mike Graham asked the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office representative about burglary and theft numbers in the community. Sgt. Andy Madrid said both crimes were down at that moment, but were expected to increase.
“These are seasonal crimes in the Sun Cities communities because of the demographics,” he said. “We expect to see them go up as the winter visitors return.”
Total calls for crimes against property actually decreased between 2016 and 2018, according to statistics provided by MCSO’s media team. In 2016 total calls about property crimes was 664 while those calls were 570 in 2017 and 579 in 2018. Property crimes include arson, auto theft, burglary and theft.
In the individual categories, a downward trend was also seen in burglary and theft. The calls for burglary in 2016 were 211 but were 144 in 2017 and 173 in 2018. Theft calls in 2016 totalled 388 with that dropping to 356 in 2017 and 355 in 2018.
In Sun City West, total property crimes calls were 216 in 2016 but were 191 in 2017 and 228 in 2018. The calls for burglary in Sun City West for 2016 were 37 while in 2017 they were 34 and in 2018 37. Theft calls were 143 in 2016 and in the following years they were 127 for 2017 and 167 for 2018.
Crimes-against-person calls in Sun City were 29 for each of the previous three years, with robbery and aggrevated assult topping the lists each year. In Sun City West total calls for crimes against persons in 2016 was nine, but in 2017 they went to 14 then down to seven in 2018.
Capt. Frank McWilliams, MCSO District 3 commander, said calls reported do not reflect the actual numbers of crimes as they represent only what callers reported to central dispatch.
“An in-depth analysis would need to be completed to ascertain a true reflection of trends within both communities for crimes against persons and property crimes,” Mr. McWilliams stated in an email.
The call figures provided to the Independent were estimates and used to make informed decisions regarding staffing and resource allocation, according to Mr. McWilliams.
The captain did confirm Sgt. Madrid’s estimation that burglary and theft calls would most likely increase, but this may not necessarily mean an increase in the actual crimes in real time.
“Property-type crimes do fluctuate with the seasonal populations of both Sun City and Sun City West,” Mr. McWilliams stated. “Part of the reason for this is residents are not aware they have been victimized until they return home, especially if they don’t have someone looking after their residence while they are away.”
That is why MCSO officials strongly recommend seasonal and non-seasonal residents alike participate in programs such as the Vacation Watch program offered by the respective community posses, according to Mr. McWilliams.
“Additionally, communicate with neighbors letting them know when you are leaving and returning, and who should be at your home while you’re away,” he stated. “This will help everyone identify suspicious activity at your residence while you’re away.”
The Sun Cities communities experience different numbers in the calls received and the actual crimes committed, according to the MCSO stats and reporting on the Riadsonline and Spotcrime websites. Several factors can be attributed to the different numbers, according to Mr. McWilliams. The main factor could be that Sun City West is contained withhin walls and does not have major roadways, such as Bell Road and Grand Avenue, going through the community.
“I believe the trend you have identified can be largely contributed to the geographical differences of the two communities,” Mr. McWilliams stated.
He said MCSO’s mission continues to be to work together to safeguard the communities it serves.
“Community members have an opportunity to assist us in doing this by being vigilant,” Mr. McWilliams stated.
“In the event you suspect a situation or circumstances are suspicious, report it to your local law enforcement agency as soon as you can. No matter how insignificant the information appears to be on its surface, reporting this information may prevent a crime or assist us in solving one.”
The posses in both Sun Cities assist MCSO by conducting patrols within their communities to help spot suspicious behavior and circumstances. While the posses are not certified law enforcement agencies, they do report what they see to MCSO for law enforcement.