SAV volunteer

An SAV volunteer works an incident in December 2018.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department saw a 13 percent decrease in major crimes in 2018, including a 47 percent drop in vehicle thefts. 

Every October, the FBI releases statistics gathered from local law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report. According to the report, Pima County saw a decrease in many of the major crime categories, including murders, rapes, robberies and burglaries. Aggravated assaults, larcenies and arsons were all up slightly.

In Green Valley, there were dips in aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies in addition to motor vehicle thefts. There was one homicide, two robberies and two arsons in the area, one more in each category over 2017. Two rapes were reported last year, the same as in 2017.

County-wide, the number of stolen cars remained virtually unchanged, but statistics released by Lt. Derek Ogden showed a significant drop in the Green Valley area.

Last year, Ogden said 17 vehicles were reported stolen compared to 32 in 2017, and 37 in 2016. Nine of the vehicles stolen last year were found, compared to four in 2017, and three in 2016.

Ogden believes the reason thieves have been stealing fewer vehicles in Green Valley is the same reason they are breaking into fewer houses – neighbors, deputies and volunteers. Statistics show there were 51 burglaries reported last year compared to 63 in 2017, and 91 in 2016.

"I think the community down here does a really good job looking out for each other," Ogden said. "I know we get a lot of suspicious activity or suspicious-persons calls, which whether we're able to contact that person or not, people looking out for each other really helps. If someone sees a patrol car drive through there, maybe they'll move on it, if that was their intent. They'll move on to another area to do that kind of stuff."

The Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers also deserves a huge thanks, Ogden said. They regularly check homes at the request of residents who go on vacation or leave for the summer. 

SAV Commander Doug Kenyon said his SAVs have put in about 53,000 volunteer hours this year. Part of their duties include checking on homes. During the first nine months of this year, SAV checked on homes nearly 18,000 times. Nearly 1,500 homes are on their check list every month.

"Our SAVs down here, obviously, I can't say enough about how good they are and the services they provide," Ogden said. "When people go out of town and the SAVs are able to go out and do checks on their residences, I think that's such a valuable service and I really think it helps with that."

Ogden, who became the Green Valley substation commander in March, also gave a lot of credit to his predecessor, Capt. Eric Johnson, and his deputies. 

They "truly enjoy and are invested in the community," he said.

"They show up to work ready every single day and they really are out," Ogden said. "If you're just out driving through the community you'll see their cars out quite a bit. That increased presence out there, the visibility really is a huge crime deterrent."

While most people might be concerned to see that the number of controlled substance cases in Green Valley increased 28 percent — from 40 to 51 last year — Ogden said the numbers are actually a positive sign.

Since more people are calling about suspicious activity and deputies are spending so much time patrolling, they are finding more people with illegal substances in their possession, he said. And, since substance abuse goes hand-in-hand with property crimes, they are likely preventing an untold number of burglaries and thefts, Ogden said.

"We like to make more of those arrests, it keeps our neighborhoods safe," he said.

The Green Valley area also saw a slight decrease in fraud cases last year, statistics show. There were 132 fraud cases reported in 2018, compared to 140 the year prior.

Sheriff Mark Napier is a big proponent of educating the public and those efforts are clearly paying off, Ogden said. For example, the SAVs' Scam Squad alerts residents to the latest scams through its Green Valley News column and on KGVY radio and regularly fields calls.

"We really try to be proactive in preventing victimization," Ogden said. "I think law enforcement as a whole sometimes falls into the trap of somebody is victimized, we get the case on our desk, we go out and do an investigation, we arrest the suspect. It's all reactive, and I think with stuff the Scam Squad does, it's very much proactive as opposed to reactive. We try to have people spread that word out there to prevent people from being victimized. That's something I personally take a lot of pride in."

There were fewer DUIs in Green Valley last year, again possibly due to proactive measures such as regularly scheduled  driving under the influence checkpoints, Ogden said.  Last year, there were 21 DUI cases, compared to 27 in 2017.

The number of people arrested in Green Valley and booked into the jail increased 16 percent, from 168 to 195 last year, statistics show. 

Kim Smith | 520-547-9740

Assistant Editor Kim Smith moved to Arizona from Michigan when she was 16. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism in 1989. She has worked at seven newspapers of varying size in Arizona, Texas and Nevada.