Crime numbers up in Tiffin

Although down six police officers last year, the Tiffin Police Department reported a three percent increase in its overall activity in 2012.

According to information from the police department, the department’s activity level increased from 13,784 calls for service in 2011 to 14,226 in 2012.

By then end of 2013, it’s projected the police department will have more than 15,000 service calls, Tiffin Police Chief Fred Stevens said.

One of the biggest increases in recent years has been in the number of thefts and burglaries, Stevens said.

In 2009, 167 burglaries were reported in Tiffin. Last year, police responded to 244 burglaries, according to Tiffin police statistics. Larceny reports also have nearly doubled during that time. Last year, 877 larcenies were reported, and in 2009, 447 were reported to police. Although those numbers are high, many of the same offenders committed the crimes, Stevens said.

Drug activity also seems to be on the rise in recent years, Stevens said. Last year, the Seneca County Drug Task Force METRICH Enforcement Unit conducted 143 investigations. So far this year, the number of cases stands at 61. Of those, 29 were in the city of Tiffin.

“That’s gone up quite significantly,” he said.

Stevens said the increase in numbers could be partly contributed to the nation’s economic downfall which began in 2009. While the volume of service calls at the Tiffin Police Department increased greatly since 2009, the amount of police officers on staff dwindled during that time due to cuts.

In 1978, the Tiffin Police Department had 38 officers. Now at 25 officers, instead of a full-staff of 31, Stevens said low staffing can make it difficult for officers to perform proactive patrolling or to respond to quality-of-life calls, such as high weeds or parking complaints, in a timely manner.

Although staffing is low, the criminal division was successful last year in solving a large percentage of cases, Stevens said.

Of 473 cases worked by the department’s criminal division in 2012, 227 criminal arrests were made, according to Tiffin police statistics. This gave the criminal division a 58 percent clearance rate while the national rate of cases solved by follow-up investigations was 23 percent.

“That’s absolutely a good number,” Stevens said. “They do a lot door-to-door investigation and interviews and we solve more than what the national average across the nation solves.”

Cases solved included many of the burglaries and larcenies reported, he said.

Along with the success of the criminal division, decreases in some areas of crime also were reported in 2012.

Decreases were seen in the number of rapes, homicides, robberies and arsons reported, according to Tiffin Police statistics. In 2009, one homicide was reported. Last year, there were no homicides in Tiffin.

Reports of rape also decreased from 11 in 2009 to seven in 2012. Robberies decreased from seven to five and arson went from six to one in that time period, according to statistics.

“I think we’re on par with what all cities are going through right now,” Stevens said.

Stevens said he believes Tiffin is a safe community, even though some residents might think the city has experienced a spike in crime. He said that perception is in part due to the police department’s transparency through social media and its openness about criminal activity.

“I think that we are a safe community,” he said.