Crime up slightly in Aspen in ’08 |

Crime up slightly in Aspen in ’08

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” Crime is slowly rising in Aspen, Colorado, statistically speaking, according to a report issued by local police on Friday.

But the emphasis is on the word, “slowly,” as even the police admit.

“It’s not like a crime wave has hit Aspen,” said Assistant Chief Bill Linn.

According to a statement from the Aspen Police Department, the total number of “calls for service” rose from 18,704 in 2007 to 19,136 last year, while overall arrests rose from 400 in 2007 to 474 in 2008.

Crimes against persons rose slightly in most categories in 2008, police reported, but drug violations dropped a bit, as did arrests based on warrants from other jurisdictions, underage drinking incidents and requests for people to be taken to a detoxification center.

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Sexual assaults, according to the report, rose from seven incidents in 2007 to nine in 2008, while general assaults climbed from 82 to 98 over the course of the year. A total of 18 people were accused of violating a judge’s restraining orders last year, compared to 13 the year before.

On the other hand, cases of harassment fell from 76 in 2007 to 31 last year, and only five people were charged with menacing last year, compared to seven people the year before.

The total number of property crimes went up from 584 in 2007 to 635 last year, including a jump in the number of burglaries, which went from 35 to 56.

The number of cars stolen remained all but constant at 18 (compared to 17 the year before), but the number of bicycle thefts rose from 50 to 74, and ski thefts nearly doubled, from 15 to 27. Police officials used the jump in ski thefts as a chance to remind visitors and residents alike to “register their winter ski and snowboard equipment.”

While the crime category of “criminal mischief” ” which basically is vandalism and other low-level property transgressions ” held steady at 92 incidents, the numbers for trespassing, forgery and fraud all dropped in 2008.

“Despite low staffing numbers and increased calls for service, the Aspen Police Department continues to provide professional and responsive police services,” said Chief Richard Pryor in a prepared statement.

“It is unclear how economic and social challenges in the year ahead will affect the police department’s resources and operations,” the chief continued.

But his department “looks forward to a new year with near full staffing levels by the end of 2009,” the statement declared.

Assistant Chief Bill Linn said the department currently has 25 officers on the payroll, including some in field training or in Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy classes, and has a total allotment of 27 positions.

Linn said the department is planning to fill those last two positions.

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