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Crime reports up in Medford last year

The Medford Police Department has capped a busy year in which officers responded to more than 100,000 calls for service, and its chief hopes to add to its force next year to take off some of the pressure.

Crime numbers are up in many categories, which is both bad and good news, said Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen.

The city saw increases in reported property crimes, including burglaries and car thefts. These numbers concern Schoen heading into 2011.

"We are definitely keeping an eye on the property-crime numbers," Schoen said. "Those are issues that affect people's lives."

By November, the department had taken 380 burglary reports, up from 320 the previous year. The bulk of those crimes were residential burglaries, which are up 27 percent for the year. Business burglaries were up 22 percent.

Theft reports in the city rose nearly 10 percent. These crimes include shoplifting, bicycle thefts and thefts from vehicles. Thefts from vehicles saw a large bump in 2010, with 589 reports, up from 389 the previous year.

This figure prompted Schoen to reiterate the importance of keeping cars locked and not leaving valuables inside overnight.

The department also took more assault reports in 2010. Assaults were up just more than nine percent, with 1,273 reports, up from 1,167 in 2009.

There were three murders in Medford last year, up from two in 2009.

One area that saw a drop in reports was fraud, which includes identity theft, bad checks, credit-card fraud and theft by deception. Overall, these reports decreased by 16 percent.

Schoen noted that some crime-statistic increases are good for the city, such as the increase in weapons-law reports by Medford officers in 2010, which jumped by 31 percent.

"These are self-initiated crimes in which our officers are out there taking weapons off the street," Schoen said. "You want to see these numbers climb each year."

In addition, drug offenses shot up by 32 percent, with the department taking nearly 1,400 drug reports for the year. Schoen attributes this increase to proactive measures by the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement, or MADGE, team.

"We worked drug cases very hard this year, and I think that shows in the numbers," Schoen said.

DUII reports climbed by 7 percent, with officers investigating 352 drunk-driving cases in 2010.

Traffic accidents decreased in the city over the past year. Both injury and non-injury accidents dropped by a combined 6 percent in 2010.

Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George said this could be attributed to the continuing sour economy.

"When you have high unemployment, you have fewer drivers on the road," George said.

Looking ahead to next year, Schoen said he hopes to take some of the department's budget savings and add more officers to the ranks.

"We certainly could use a few more people, considering how our calls for service keep increasing," he said.

Schoen said he did not know the exact amount of these savings or the number of new hires he would like to add in 2011.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.