The 46 police officers and 15 civilian employees had their hands full last year, but overall it was a good year with the police making progress in bringing down many categories of criminal activity, according to the department’s annual report, which was recently completed and released to the public.
The categories that had increases in arrests and activity — such as home invasions, identity theft and shoplifting — appear to be driven up by people looking for money to buy drugs or support themselves, the report indicates.
Sgt. Robert Bettencourt, who heads the Danvers community policing program and serves as the department spokesman, said it was a good year.
“Danvers is a safe, quiet place. And we want to keep it that way,” he said.
Overall arrests last year were down 28 percent, the report said.
Bettencourt said the department was concerned about the rise in residential burglaries and has taken steps, including starting four new neighborhood watch programs, to help reverse the trend.
Here is a review of the Police Department’s annual report. The full report can be viewed on the department’s Web site.
Residential burglaries spiked up in 2010 with 77 break-ins, more than twice as many as in 2009.
“Housebreaks started off the year higher than average, dropped down in March and April, then skyrocketed in May with 15. The remainder of the year fluctuated between 6-9 a month, which is still above average,” the report said.
The house breaks occurred in several different patterns. The first group of home burglaries occurred in the Woodvale neighborhood west of Beverly Airport. When a juvenile in the area was arrested, the burglaries stopped.
A second group of home burglaries occurred in July off of Green and Centre Street. Two men from Revere and Malden were arrested under suspicion of committing five burglaries in May.
There were several more burglaries in June. Several are still under investigation.
Fraud and Forgery
Identify theft and con games drove up the fraud and forgery category last year by 3 percent. This is a category of criminal activity that has been rising steadily in most year since 2001, the report said.
There were a total of 128 incidences last year, more than half of which were ATM/credit card identity thefts.
There were numerous con games played out. Most involved offering to give a person a Traveler’s check if the person would wire a lesser amount of money to the perpetrator. The Traveler’s check proved to be bogus after the money was sent.
The biggest scam of the year was what the report called the Sterling Motors Ponzi Scheme. The car dealer at 70 Andover St. acted as a consignment shop, brokering the sale of used automobiles. Customers started filing complaints when they said they could not get their deposit refunded from Sterling. Several customers complained that they were not paid for the sale of their car. The Sterling Motors owner is also charged with forging title documents.
There were 333 incidences of shoplifting, which is up about 20 percent over last year and has continued to rise over the last 10 years, the report said.
And the number of shoplifting incidents may be higher because some retailers prefer to handle thefts without reporting them to the police, the report said.
The report also said shoplifting may not be increasing as much as the statistics show, but rather retailers are being more vigilant in catching shoplifters.
and stores amounted to more than half of the reported shoplifting incidents last year. There were 126 incidents at Walmart, up 20 from last year. Kohl’s had 64 incidents, down 22 incidents from last year. reported 22 incidents, up five from last year. and stores remained even with incidents in the low teens.
Stealing the whole car is no longer the crime in Danvers that it once was. Twenty-eight cars were stolen last year as compared to 23 in 2009. But that is a significant drop from previous years, and the report said it is unknown why the number of auto thefts has dropped.
The number of thefts from cars was more worrisome. There were 255 thefts from cars. More than 40 of those were thefts of tires, rims and license plates. There were more car break-ins, where thieves stole purses, computers, telephones and iPods. It didn't seem to matter whether the car was parked in the driveway or at a business.
Homicides and Rapes
Last year, again there were no homicides in Danvers. The town has not had a murder since 2006. Rapes, however, were up. There were six rapes committed in Danvers last year – two were domestic related, three were by acquaintances. Most resulted in arrest.
Domestic Abuse and Violence
Domestic abuse cases were down 8 percent last year, but there were still 532 incidents. A majority of them were verbal arguments and did not progress to violence. Assault and aggravated assault cases accounted for 15 percent of the cases. Violations of restraining orders were 4 percent and sex offenses were 1 percent.
Twenty-seven percent of the domestic assault cases involved the consumption of alcohol. In none of the cases was a gun used, and in only one case did the attacker use a knife.
Domestic cases are unpredictable and require the officers to deal with each one individually, the report said. The officers inform the victims of their rights, how to file for a restraining order and where to go to seek counseling.
Drug offenses of all types were down 21 percent. Marijuana and prescription drug offenses accounted for 78 percent of all cases with prescription drug abuse on the rise. Cocaine possession was actually down. The report suggests that the drug arrests were down as a result of the new state marijuana possession law.
Statistically, prostitution arrests in Danvers increased by 150 percent and has been steadily on the rise, but the numbers in this category are misleading, says the department. The actual number of arrests jumped from four to 10, and all but one of the arrests came from stings by the department, arresting prostitutes who advertised on the Internet.
Criminal Activity at Hotels and Motels
In 2008 and 2009, the criminal activity at local hotels and motels rose rapidly. But the closing of the Carriage House Motel, which was notorious for drug dealing and prostitution. In 2010, the motel was closed. It has moved to other low-priced motels, but in 2010, the police department's efforts seemed to be reducing the number of complaints and arrests at the motels.
In addition to frequent patrols of the motel parking lots, the officers review the lists of occupants to identify known criminals.