Year to date - 2011 - 2010
Robbery - 7 - 10
Burglary - 71 - 76
Larceny-theft - 321 - 250
Forgery/counterfeiting - 53 - 52
Fraud - 85 - 42
Vandalism - 96 - 129
Drug sales - 37 - 13
Drug possession - 150 - 92
Total - 2,216 - 1,728
Year to date - 2011 - 2010
Robbery - 7 - 4
Burglary - 27 - 5
Larceny-theft - 119 - 58
Forgery/counterfeiting - 22 - 18
Fraud - 34 - 7
Vandalism - 30 - 8
Drug sales - 36 - 9
Drug possession - 138 - 71
Total - 1,359 - 905
Source: Dalton Police Department
DALTON, Ga. - The bad news is the crime rate in Dalton is up more than 28 percent this year compared to the same time last year, with the largest increases in theft, fraud and drug incidents.
The good news is police have made 50 percent more arrests during the same time, statistics show.
Police Chief Jason Parker presented the most recent numbers - covering January through April - to the Public Safety Commission on Tuesday. Parker said the increase in crime continues a trend that began last year.
Crime fell between 2005 and 2009, Parker wrote in an email response to questions about the increase. "Near the middle of 2010, however, we began to see a reversal of that trend, and a steady rise that continues now," he wrote.
During the meeting, commission member Bill Weaver noted that police responded to more calls this year with the same number of personnel.
"Those are a large number of calls every day," Weaver said.
Police have set a goal of reducing burglaries and robberies by at least 5 percent this year. So far, statistics show, both of those categories have decreased slightly. Vandalism numbers also shrank.
One of the largest increases was in fraud cases, which more than doubled this year. Thefts were up 28 percent, but arrests on thefts more than doubled compared to last year.
The classification of larceny-theft covers a broad range of general thefts, but the biggest increase this year was in thefts from vehicles and shoplifting, Parker said.
He said drug sale and drug possession incidents also increased dramatically. Some are from the culmination of long-term investigations, Parker said.
He said officers on the street mostly see methamphetamine and marijuana, but illegal use of prescribed medication and other drugs also is a factor.
Most drug possession arrests come from officers who make car stops for other violations, Parker said.
"Just plain, solid police work by seasoned officers," he said.
Experts say crime rates often rise during hard economic times and periods of high unemployment, but Parker said his department has not seen a direct connection.
Joblessness in Dalton and Whitfield County still is higher than state and national averages, but the picture has improved in recent months compared to 2009 and 2010.
"There are other possible factors, including that there is still a high return on recycled metal and precious metals," Parker said. "In addition, some intelligence suggests that a considerable amount of property crime is related to drug users attempting to raise cash, and by drug dealers accepting direct trade of property for drugs."