All in all, criminal offenses in all categories appear to have trended downward this week in Copperas Cove. During this past week, the burglary of a residences was reported, during which an assault was also committed. In this series of events, the burglary of the residence was secondary to the crime of assault. These types of crimes occur in our community as isolated incidents as they target a specific person or resident.

These types of crimes are usually committed by someone the resident knows and has refused entrance to the residence. The perpetrator enters without permission and assaults the resident, making the crime a felony regardless of the severity of the assault, because of the illegal entry to the residence.

A theft of a firearm, which is a felony, also was reported to police this week. We have seen several of these crimes occur in our city over recent months, indicating this type of crime is becoming increasingly prevalent. The theft of a firearm has ramifications beyond the theft itself, as the perpetrator may use the stolen firearm in the commission of another crime. The firearm is traceable to the victim of the theft and not the criminal. Firearms in the home should be properly secured, and of course, not available to children. A parent or guardian who allows access to a firearm by a minor is guilty of a criminal offense and could be prosecuted if such access results in physical harm or property damage.

A report of criminal mischief also was made this week. Copperas Cove usually sees cases of criminal mischief spike in the summer months after the adjournment of school classes for the summer vacation, and during the Christmas and spring vacations. The vast majority of these cases are usually attributed to vacationing teens, acting alone or in concert with another as a relief from boredom, or acting on a dare. It has been my experience that cities that provide a variety of activities for their youths ultimately have the least criminal activity attributed to youths.

One of the new laws in 2013 hits close to home for all Copperas Cove drivers. That is the requirement to change to the inside lane or slow speed to at least 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit when approaching a vehicle on the roadside displaying flashing blue and amber warning lights. This law became effective on Sept. 1 and was deemed necessary to protect the lives and property of Texas Department of Transportation employees. This copies the law already in existence for law enforcement vehicles and personnel. Remember: Speeding violations in work zones where workers are present automatically double the fines.

If you have any information pertaining to these or any other crimes, please contact the Copperas Cove Police Department at 254-547-8222.

John Vander-Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement serving more than 20 years with state police and more than a decade with city law enforcement.

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