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Sheriffs blaze a new trail online

Curious about what crimes have been committed in your neighborhood? The Jackson County Sheriff's Department can help.

The agency is the first in Oregon to post its crime statistics on CrimeReports.com, an Internet-based crime mapping service.

"I hope that more agencies will come on board so that more crime data will be available for the public," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters.

The Web site uses a Google Maps interface, which allows anyone to view crime reports taken by sheriff's deputies and detectives in a given area.

"This will help anyone wishing to move to a new area to research a neighborhood's crime patterns and trends," Winters said.

The crimes listed range from bicycle thefts to murders. Each offense is tagged with a color-coded symbol making the map easy to read. For instance, assaults are tagged with a bright orange box with the letter "A" inside.

The only crimes that won't appear on the map are drug offenses, Winters said.

"We will leave those out because we don't want to give away any drug dealers we may be looking at," Winters said.

An information box containing the date, location and time of each call is set off to the side of the map. Users can scroll through the list to find what crimes have been reported to the sheriff's office in the past 24 hours.

"With our crime analysts being utilized even more by detectives, patrol deputies and administration, the use of CrimeReports.com for this service saves valuable time and resources for our agency," said sheriff's Detective Lt. Rich Fogarty.

For now, the only data available are calls made within the sheriff's office jurisdiction. The Web site currently contains statistics dating back to March 15.

Users can customize the map to show one certain type of crime under the heading "Crime Type" just above the map. The statistics also can be broken down into a specific time frame, should you want to know how many cars have been stolen in your town in the past two weeks.

The Web site can be reached at www.crimereports.com. It also can be linked to at the sheriff's office Web site at www.jacksoncounty.org/sheriff.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.