Harvey said in 2011, city police investigated 341 burglary cases. Since 2006, that figure has steadily increased.
Police investigated 200 burglaries in 2006 and 229 in 2007. In 2008, the figure rose to 248 and dropped slightly in 2009 to 245. In 2010, it cracked the 300 mark, coming in at 302 for the year.
First-degree burglaries involve weapons while second-degree burglaries involve residences, with no weapons involved. Third-degree burglaries involve an outbuilding, such as a shed.
Many of the burglaries occur during the day, Harvey said.
“I don’t know if it’s more brazen or if they feel it’s a crime of opportunity,” Harvey said. “Generally when we see burglaries to a residence, it’s during the day when people are at work.”
In theory, Harvey said, if neighbors don’t know one another, a person could back up a moving truck to the home and load up everything that person owns and all the neighbors would see is a moving truck.
“They don’t know if you’re moving; they don’t ask questions, and they don’t pay attention,” he said.
Car break-ins are the highest reported crimes in the city.
Many of the times, officers found out what the thieves did — it isn’t hard to open an unlocked door and ransack a vehicle.
“A car break-in is almost a misnomer because almost all of them are unlocked,” Harvey said. “They just pull door handles, and the doors are open.”
Harvey said many residents call the police and say someone went through their car the previous night but didn’t take anything.
“That tells me that (thieves) are just fishing,” he said. “They’re just pulling door handles and when they find one open, they’re just going through it to see if there is anything they want. They’re looking for medications, purses, stereo stuff, GPSs, and there have been guns taken from unlocked vehicles.”
Harvey said the reasons people give for leaving their cars unlocked are common.
“People always say, ‘I don’t want them breaking my windows,’” he said. “Chances are they are not (going to), and if they do, if you have full coverage in the state of Kentucky, you get the glass replaced for free.”
“If it’s me, I’m going to make them work for it,” Harvey added. “If they have to break a window, that draws attention to them. And in the middle of the night, a broken window makes a lot of noise.”
Education coupled with enforcement is the police department’s primary response to crime issues, Harvey said.
“We feel that we’re not going to enforce our way out of the current crimes that we have; we need enforcement, but we feel that we much rather prevent crimes instead of cleaning them up,” he said. “So education is where a lot of our focus is. Obviously, there’s always going to be a need for enforcement, but if we can stop crimes from happening in the first place, that’s our number-one goal.”
The good news is the city of Nicholasville hasn’t experienced a murder since December 2000. But that doesn’t mean it’s a city without some violent crime, and Harvey said the most common violent crime is domestic violence.
“Our domestic-violence numbers are going to be skewed a little bit from our standpoint because we used to take a case report on what we call verbal domestics,” he said. “There was no physical injury or physical contact, but there was an argument. We stopped taking those reports because, really, that’s not a crime. Everybody has arguments.”
Harvey said officers do respond to verbal domestics to help bring order to the situation. Harvey said many of the calls are to repeat offenders.
Harvey said the city also sees its fair share of rapes and sexual-abuse type crimes, but he feels it is greatly under reported.
“What we see is it doesn’t always get reported because people feel like it’s an isolated incident or there’s shame in reporting it, or it’s a family member, and they feel like they can handle it within the family,” Harvey said.
But not reporting it can only make matters worse, Harvey said.
“We want to hear about it in the beginning so that we can get necessary evidence, because if somebody has offended this way, there’s a really good chance they will offend that way again,” he said. “It is something we deal with, but not at a greater or lesser rate than any other area.”