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Robber spikes Medford crime statistics

Police report 51 armed robberies in the city in 2005, and Edward J. Silva and several of his cohorts are suspected in 11 to 13 of them

Thanks in large part to the efforts of one career criminal and his partners, Medford police recorded a 34 percent increase in robberies for 2005.

According to Lt. Tim George, there were 51 robberies committed in Medford last year ' up from 38 in 2004.

Unfortunately, there's a kind of person who simply enjoys doing robberies, George said. And that's the kind of person we dealt with all summer.

George breaks the robberies down into two groups: financial institutions such as banks and credit unions, and businesses such as gas stations, convenience stores and taverns.

Most notably, seven Medford banks were targeted by robbers last year.

— We usually have about one to two bank robberies a year, George said. That's an all-time high for us.

The number of bank robberies spiked last summer, culminating in the morning of Sept. 8 when two banks were robbed within 90 minutes of each other.

Two in one day, George said. That's just unheard of.

Police have made arrests in all but two of the heists. The Aug. 26 robbery of the Washington Mutual branch at the intersection of Crater Lake Avenue and Stevens Street and the Dec. 5 heist of the Wells Fargo Bank at 1320 E. McAndrews Road remain unsolved, George said.

However, 2005 would have gone in the books as a rather average year had it not been for Edward J. Silva. Police believe Silva, 28, and two other accomplices are responsible for between 11 and 13 armed robberies since last February. Police believe he and his two accomplices robbed various Purple Parrot stores and taverns over the spring and summer. He is also the primary suspect in the June 20 hold-up of a Bank of America branch in Medford, George said.

If you take that particular group out of the equation you bring the number down to average, George said.

Silva, whose criminal career began at age 15, was arrested Nov. 10 in Sacramento on suspicion of robbing two California banks. He returned to Medford in December to face several federal charges relating to the summer crime spree.

George said most robberies are committed by people like Silva: adult males who have extensive criminal histories.

Regardless of the sharp increase in robberies, George is happy with his department's 60 percent clearance rate on these crimes. Of the 51 robberies committed last year, 31 have been solved, George said.

Police are already planning ahead in order to make sure 2006 doesn't see another jump in robberies. Officers will implement new tactics and training to make for faster response times to robbery calls, and be integral in the training of bank and store employees to make them better witnesses in case of a heist. He also wants to see police provide security training for institutions, George said.

The bottom line is, you want to make businesses unattractive for robbers, George said. These situations are dangerous because people come into these places waving guns and terrorizing people.

No one was injured in any robbery last year, George said. Regardless, robberies eat up large chunks of department man-hours.

We spend hundreds of hours investigating robberies, George said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail Robber spikes Medford crime statistics"cconrad@mailtribune.com.