Fayette County

Lexington property crime rate increased in 2008

Overall crime rates remained low in Lexington during 2008 despite a spike in property crimes last fall, Lexington police reported on Thursday.

Major crimes increased 3.4 percent, or 380 incidences, over 2007, when crime was at a 33-year-low in Lexington. Major crimes include murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson.

Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin said numbers for the start and middle of 2008 were comparable to those of '07, but a significant increase in property crimes was seen around September.

In response, the Division of Police formed a Theft/Burglary Reduction Task Force, which led to 127 arrests in October and November, 77 warrants served and more than $56,000 worth of property seized, Lexington police Lt. Ron Compton said.

"We're tremendously proud of the work of this task force," Bastin said.

Still, police couldn't immediately say how those October and November arrest numbers compare with the same period in 2007.

Overall, the two property crimes that saw the greatest increase from 2007 were burglaries and larcenies. Burglaries jumped by 6.9 percent, or 145; larcenies increased 3.9 percent, or 255.

Bastin said the recession contributed to the increases.

Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said people who commit non-violent property crimes often do not expect harsh punishment.

"They think 'why not take a chance now,'" he said.

But 5 percent of the population commits between 50 to 80 percent of crimes, Larson said, and the key is to make sure that repeat offenders are jailed.

Overall, there were 11,549 major crimes reported in Lexington during 2008.