BELTON — Crime ticked upward in Belton in 2013.
Police Chief Gene Ellis told the Belton City Council the city experienced a 12 percent overall increase in reported crimes last year. The largest increases were in assault, which went from 453 incidents in 2012 to 559 in 2013, and theft, which grew from 588 incidents in 2012 to 710 in 2013.
He said part of the growth can be attributed to the community’s increased willingness to report crimes as part of the department’s community outreach efforts.
“Under-reporting of crime is a big problem,” Ellis said. “Not just in Belton, but nationwide.”
Arrests for assaults also increased in 2013, from 316 in 2012 to 328. Theft arrests were up from 453 to 710.
Ellis credited the loss prevention department at the Walmart in Belton with assistance in raising theft arrests, which grew from 19 percent of reported cases in 2011, to 77 percent in 2012 and 100 percent in 2013.
He said “most of our theft calls come from Walmart.”
Driving while intoxicated incidents jumped from 1,709 in 2012 to 2,250 in 2013.
The report attributes the 32 percent increase to the department’s more proactive approach to policing.
The Belton Police Department also saw growth in burglary of motor vehicle reports, which went from 86 incidents in 2012 to 142 in 2013. Ellis told the council that 100 percent of burglary of motor vehicle calls could be traced to unlocked doors.
“Please stress to your friends and neighbors to lock your cars,” Ellis said.
Despite the increases, Belton is still below the national and state averages for reported crimes. Councilman David K. Leigh asked how Belton fares against local communities, and Ellis said he didn’t have the numbers on hand.
“We’re neck and neck in property crime and below in violent crime,” he said.
Belton also saw noticeable decreases in robberies, which dropped from 13 to seven, and arsons, which declined from six in 2012 to one in 2013.