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Coupeville has less crime, more police calls

Crime is down this year in Coupeville and yet calls to the police are skyrocketing, an apparent paradox that makes perfect sense to town Marshal Lenny Marlborough.

"A lot of it is that people are calling in things prior to a crime occurring," Marlborough said last week. "Our presence in those incidents is what's going to cause the crime to go down."

The numbers are telling. Comparing this year with last, traffic infractions are down from 152 to 53 and investigative cases are down from 215 to 153. Traffic citations are also down around 50 percent from the same time last year.

Marlborough attributed the higher number of calls to the police -- about 130 calls a month, he said -- partly to the ongoing search for one particular suspect who allegedly broke into a number of homes earlier in the summer. The suspect also reportedly kidnapped a Coupeville resident for a ride around town. Town residents have reported seeing the suspect on several occasions, Marlborough said, every one of which the police has investigated.

"The past couple of months have been extremely busy for us," he said. "Our suspicious person calls have gone through the roof."

Marlborough also said that in a few areas of concern, the town's police force is "ahead of schedule" compared to last year. In all of 2001, there were only six vehicles reported stolen; so far this year there have already been six car thefts. Three vehicles were reported stolen in 2000.

The reason for the increase?

"Keys in the car," Marlborough said.

Marlborough said all the stolen cars have been recovered. Much of the time auto theft in Coupeville is a matter of someone joyriding, he said.

Malicious mischief cases are also up a bit, Marlborough said, with 23 already this year.

Domestic violence calls are down somewhat, though, Marlborough said, "We've got several this month already."

Fraud cases, such as credit card theft, are also up, with six already this year compared to four for all of 2001. This makes a good deal of work for the Coupeville force.

"That kind of stuff is inherently time-consuming," Marlborough said.

In all, Marlborough attributed the general decrease in crime to the vigilance of the Coupeville community, coupled with the hard work of the police force.

"It's the willingness of the community to call in suspicious things that allows us to get there early enough to do something about it," he said. "Without the assistance of the community, the police just become recordkeepers."

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