Snow and sleet slow crime
by Jessica Loeding
Feb 13, 2014 | 1974 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Snow and ice twice in the past two weeks has closed schools, businesses and shut residents inside. But, there may be an upside.

During the two events, a notable drop was seen in the number of incident reports filed with the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office and Cartersville Police Department as well as a decrease in the number of people booked into the Bartow County Jail.

Officials with both agencies said the decline may be attributed to changes dictated by the weather.

“Crime does appear to drop, but sometimes this is attributed to victims not realizing until they get out and about that they have been victimized, i.e. having to abandon your vehicle and returning several days later and discovering that someone burglarized your car or making it to outdoor shed and discovering a burglary has occurred,” said BCSO Public Information Officer Sgt. Jonathan Rogers. “If there is a decrease, it is usually because sometimes criminals are grounded as well during these times.”

CPD Capt. Mark Camp agreed.

“The decrease in crime during the last storm and this most recent one is most likely due to the cold weather and lack of mobility,” he said. “I would say the decrease for us in this area, as opposed to somewhere like northern states where winter storms are a common occurrence, is simply because attention gets focused elsewhere when we get a bad winter storm and people are not out as much.”

With residents homebound, reports indicate domestic dispute calls would increase. Both Rogers and Camp said that is not always the case.

“Domestics sometimes slightly increase during inclement weather, but the rise is not always notable. And, when there is a domestic in this weather, it is usually a result of everyone being in close proximity to each other for extended periods of time,” Rogers said.

Cartersville police have not seen a documented increase in domestic-related reports.

“Domestic situations may increase as a result of people having to stay inside more, but fortunately, we have not witnessed an increase here during the recent storms,” Camp said.

On Wednesday, Cartersville released to the media three reports from Tuesday — all for probation violation. Bartow County filed six reports of various types, including family violence.

Crime does become a concern in certain weather events, such as tornadoes in recent years.

“Storms where property destruction occurs as a result, such as tornado, bring about their own set of unique problems,” Camp said. “You not only have crimes such as theft which may increase, but you have crimes of fraud in the aftermath from unscrupulous people trying to take financial advantage of the victims.”

Thefts of opportunity increase during those times, Rogers said. “In a tornado there are often belongings scattered around giving an increase in opportune thefts. During these winter events, there is a higher likelihood of abandoned vehicles being burglarized or stolen and also a higher chance of business burglary for closed businesses, which would normally be open.”

Both departments work throughout events like this week’s.

“Whenever there is a storm, the department has contingency plans in place to ensure that we have adequate manpower available, are able to navigate the roadways, can have adequate resources for answering the increased number of phone calls, and have coordination with other city departments such as [Cartersville] Public Works, Electric Department, Gas Department, etc.,” Camp said.

Bartow County deputies utilize four-wheel drive vehicles to respond to calls, transport doctors and nurses to or from the hospital, along with deputies and dispatchers to and from work. During the snow event Jan. 28, BCSO deputies also transported children home from school.

“It helps when citizens heed warnings not to drive by keeping roads open for emergency vehicles,” Rogers said, adding that residents should not call 911 for road conditions. “Most of the time the dispatchers do not have information on specific roads and it ties up phone lines, which may be needed for actual emergencies.”

BCSO Maj. Jessica Pruett, who is over the E-911 division, said emergency calls vary depending on the event.

“Like this time, the call volume is a little lighter than on a regular day,” she said. “Two weeks ago, we were bombarded. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the weather.”