2021 Crime Trends: Fresno County sees alarming spike in vehicle part thefts, homicides increase in Clovis

Crime

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Law enforcement officials are looking back at 2021 and are noticing some concerning crime trends across the Central Valley.

It’s not just one particular trend that’s concerning officials with both the Clovis Police Department and the Fresno County Sherriff’s Office, but they say there are a few trends with theft they’re hoping to curb in 2022.

With just days left until 2022, law enforcement officials are reflecting on 2021.

Clovis Police Sergeant Jim Koch says when looking back at the year, there’s one particular crime the department saw increase more than any other, vehicle part thefts.

“Historically a theft from a motor vehicle meant a tailgate a license plate, a mirror- now something that’s happening statewide is a theft of catalytic converters,” said Sgt. Koch.

In 2019, Clovis Police say they only had 61 vehicle part thefts reported. In 2020 it rose to 80. But in 2021, the department saw 302 vehicle part thefts, a 395% increase since 2019.

Another dramatic increase for Clovis was homicides. Not seeing any in 2019, two in 2020, to five in 2021. While concerning, Koch says three of those were domestic violence cases and an arrest has been made in each one.

“We do have crime in Clovis. It is the safest city in the valley, but we do have crime,” explained Sgt. Koch.

Across the county, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says catalytic converter thefts are concerning for them too, seeing a 59% rise in vehicle part thefts. As thieves focus on parts outside of the car, there were 731 reports of thefts of items inside vehicles in 2021, down from 811 the previous year.

An increase of suspicious fires kept firefighters busy this year, with reported arsons rising from 8 cases in 2020 to 19 cases in 2021.

When it comes to homicides, Lieutenant Brandon Pursell says they’re down slightly- only investigating 18 this year rather than 21. He says some of those we’re cases from smaller towns they took on, but they have a solve rate of around 70%.

With fewer homicides this year than last, we asked if Fresno County is a safer place to live now than at the start of the year.

“I think that is going to depend on your situation. Homicides are tough to predict. We’re just very fortunate that this year so far homicides are down and our solve rate is up,” said Fresno County Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Pursell.

While vehicle part thefts county-wide were up dramatically, theft overall across all categories increased by 3%.

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