Vail crime down in 2002 |

Vail crime down in 2002

Christine Ina Casillas
Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger gives a news briefing Monday on the latest developments in a possible kidnapping case.

Vail might be one of the safest places in the country to live, a report by the Vail Police Department indicates.

The crime statistics in Vail are relatively low for the size of the area, but theft of skis and snowboards remains a troubling problem, said Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger.

“There’s a lot of different things that affect crime rate,” Henninger said. “There has been a lot more incidents of theft in Vail than Aspen or Breckenridge. But the number of skiers here is higher, as well.”

Theft was the biggest problem the department faced, the report showed.

“The bigger problems were the theft of toys and skis,” he said.

The department has worked to decrease the number of thefts every year, he said. Ski, snowboard and bike registration has been one way police have tried to prevent and solve thefts. The equipment is entered into a database and clearly visible decals are placed on the gear to dissuade any would-be thieves.

The report shows the most commonly stolen skis by make are Salomon, Rossignol and K2. The most commonly stolen snowboards by make are Burton, Salomon and Rossignol.

Volunteers who staff the ski and bike registration files work with police records personnel and compile data on thefts, looking for trends and hot spots, he said.

Burglaries up

Larcenies have decreased over the past five years, the report shows. There were 648 cases of larceny reported in 2002, which represents 15 percent of the department’s total 2002 case reports. Of the 648 larcenies reported, 102 involved the theft of skis and snowboards, Henninger said.

Car thefts increased by 25.7 percent with 24 thefts reported. In 2002, 35 car thefts were reported. The most commonly stolen car by make was Toyota.

In 2002, 98 homes and commercial buildings burglaries were reported. Burglaries have increased over the past four years to 1998 levels, Henninger said. There were 56 burglary cases in 1999, 61 in 2000 and 86 in 2001.

Alcohol and assault

But it’s not just thefts that kept the police department busy in 2002. Assault cases slipped from 132 cases reported in 2001 to 119 cases reported in 2002, which is a 9.8 percent decrease.

The total number of assaults included aggravated and simple assaults, the report said. In 2002, there were 19 aggravated assaults and 100 simple assaults. According to the report, aggravated assaults are those involving a weapon or inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury.

Assaults in Vail are sometimes fueled by alcohol and drug use, Henninger said.

“It’s all those “late night alcohol-induced good ideas,'” he said. “I didn’t come up with that phrase, but it fits perfectly with what we have been seeing.”

In 2002, there were 24 cases of domestic battery reports, resulting in 27 arrests, Vail police statistics show. The numbers decreased from 1999, when there were 29 cases of domestic battery, resulting in 35 arrests.

But according to victims advocates, only a small number of domestic violence cases are reported.

Two rape cases were reported in 2002, but were determined to be unfounded, the statistics show.

Officer enforcement

Residents have complained about officer’s driving habits, policy and use of force, Henninger said. Some people questioned the way the cops handled situations and problems.

“We’ve had complaints about the officers,” Henninger said. “Internally and externally.

“One person thought our officers were too slow getting back to them about an incident,” he said. “Another person complained of the length of time it took investigating an incident by a detective.”

The department has experienced a reduction in calls for service because of the drop in tourists after Sept. 11 and the 2002 drought, the report said.

“When there’s 30,000 to 40,000 people in the community, these crime statistics are pretty low,” he added. “But for others, the numbers might be a lot higher than they would like see.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at

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