Property crimes on rise in Lexington

Non-violent property crimes reported in Lexington rose 4.1 percent in 2009 from 2008, an increase police linked to desperation from the recession.

"I would think that maybe there are more people that might be tempted to do things that, if they were employed, maybe they wouldn't," said Chief Ronnie Bastin, who, along with other area law enforcement officials, announced the data Thursday.

Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson blamed the "catch-and-release" mentality of the court system for the increase in property crime, saying the courts often put non-violent offenders on probation or otherwise release them. According to Larson, many of the non-violent property crimes in Lexington come from repeat offenders.

Bastin said that despite budget cuts, police have not shied from investigating property crimes.

"Over the last two years, the numbers of arrests we've made as a division for property-related offenses has more than doubled," Bastin said.

Violent crimes in Lexington were down 1.1 percent, to 1,761 in 2009. The number of homicides in 2009 was 14, up by one. There have been two homicides reported this year.

Over six years, arrests have been made in about 95 percent of Lexington's homicide cases, Larson said, with a conviction rate of 100 percent.