Crime rates in Steamboat Springs largely are holding steady, but the exception is burglaries, which increased from 57 in 2007 to 104 in 2008.

Photo by John F. Russell

Crime rates in Steamboat Springs largely are holding steady, but the exception is burglaries, which increased from 57 in 2007 to 104 in 2008.

Steamboat crime rates stagnant

Offenses, police staffing levels stay steady


— The Steamboat Springs Police Department is holding steady.

The amount of crime reported in Steamboat Springs, the percentage of cases solved each year by police officers and the number of police officers working for the department have all stayed about the same in recent years.

The total number of reportable crimes in Steamboat decreased slightly during the past year, with 2,271 crimes reported in 2007 and 2,116 reported in 2008.

The only remarkable change, based on reports from crime in 2007 and 2008, is an increase in burglaries of more than 80 percent. In 2007, there were 57 burglaries in Steamboat Springs, but that number jumped to 104 in 2008.

Capt. Joel Rae said there is little available explanation.

Of the burglaries in 2008, 30 were forced entry into non-residences, 37 were non-forced entry into residences and 23 were non-forced entry into non-residences.

"A lot of them can be prevented simply by locking your doors," Rae said. The police department has a maximum size of 24 officers, and the department is down one employee as it attempts to fill the position. Rae said that's the same number of officers employed since 1996.

"In terms of the amount of turnover we have here, investing in our officers is of vital importance, especially to the success of solving those crimes," he said. "It's a manpower issue, and it's a prioritization issue."

Rates of other types of crimes reported in Steamboat also are staying about the same year to year. Rae said he cannot blame any crime directly on the economic downturn.

Crimes that usually increase in economic downturns, such as domestic violence, did not change significantly in the last months of 2008, when the recession hit.

Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham said she and other district attorneys already have braced themselves for a potential increase in economy-related crimes. She said she was not surprised by the increase in burglaries in 2008.

"It was a discussion of : what do we do if we see an increase in crime and we're not going to have an increase in manpower," she said.

There were other factors that boosted the number of burglaries, including a rash of break-ins at Howelsen Hill during construction, when eight Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services buildings, vehicles and storage units were burglarized in one month.

Other small crime sprees also appeared throughout the city in 2008, including four residences broken into on West Acres Drive.

Solving crimes

The number of burglary cases cleared by police - by arresting and charging a suspect - stood at 19 percent of reported burglaries in 2008, an increase from 11 percent solved in 2007.

The national average burglary clearance rate in 2007, according to the FBI, was 11.9 percent.

For assaults, police cleared 74 percent of reported cases in 2007 and 2008. That beat the national average of 52.4 percent of aggravated assaults cleared in 2007.

Rae said that as the department prepares for the next year, he hopes to increase the presence of officers in the community by hiring new officers and engaging with the community in more ways.

"We've basically slashed our training budget by incredible amounts, and that's a sacrifice, as well," he said.

In an attempt to hire three new officers, the department is turning to grants as the Steamboat Springs City Council faces increasing cuts to city funding.

Rae said he has successfully used grants to fund other positions in the past and hopes to find money to cover the cost of half of the department's school resource officer - the Steamboat Springs School District pays the other half - and for the new hires.


Kevin Nerney 8 years, 1 month ago

Not to be cynical but couldn't the headline read "Burglary rates soar" or Burglary rates nearly double in recent crime spree. How about this for eye-catching. Murder rate increases by 100% as burglary rate soars by 80%. Oh, that's right the murder rate didn't go up but the assault rate with death has. In other news, "Middle school kids try to buy alcohol but get rebuked". Compliance checks using 15 yr olds? come on!


1999 8 years, 1 month ago

whats wrong with using 15 year olds?

i guess you don't think underage drinking is a problem is steamboat?


check with the middle school guidance counselors...please.


Kevin Nerney 8 years, 1 month ago

Underage drinking IS A PROBLEM here in Steamboat!!!! That was NOT the point I was trying to make. Alcohol Compliance Checks use underage people (usually 18-20 year olds, who look older without ID's )to try & catch someone selling alcohol to them. If you are TRULY trying to catch an establishment doing this....using a 15 year old can guarentee that NO ONE would allow a purchace to be made!!!!! (therfore 100 % compliance)


popcan 8 years, 1 month ago

Underage drinking is a factor that people need to live with in Steamboat Springs and the public school system. It is quite obvious that students have a free rein for what they want to do in public schools. Face it there is no descipline, kids are not held accountable and parents get in trouble with the law when they lay into their kids with punishment. If you don't want your kid drinking ... I would suggest sending them to a private school or anything different than a public school. Far as 18-20 year olds ... Big Deal! I drank Coors 3.2 beer when I was 18. Under age drinking ... What are you going to do about it byside piss and moan. Underage people still drink just as much.


1999 8 years, 1 month ago

or we could keep fighting for people to educate themselves.

i don't think people realise what a problem it is.

i had a mother say to me "you can't stop them"

i thought that wasn't a good attitude for a mom to take.


sickofitall 8 years, 1 month ago

(This comment was removed by the site staff because it violated our terms of use.)

Sweet :)


2strokesmoke 8 years, 1 month ago

When the police have to sit in one spot and pull people over for not coming to a full and complete stop, sure the national average is 11.9% clearance for burglaries, in a city of 2 million I can understand this, but a small town with limited access? I would like to see how these cases were cleared, there are many ways to make statisitcs say whatever you want. I'd wager most of the burglaries cleared was due to burglared parties had a very good idea of who did the burglaring. Our police spend the most of their time sitting on the hwy or on the mountain waiting for the revenue genrating drunk drivers to come by, now before everyone attacks me on the DUI's I agree they are a problem and need to be dealt with, but there needs to be neighborhood drive by's and also downtown, they have lost sight of this because we never had the problems we do now with burglaries and vehicular break-ins. How do small town cops know who should be in the area if they never patrol or make contact with the people living in the neihgborhoods?

How many times do you read in the blotter " drunken person reported behind___ person gone when police arrived" "Suspicion person reported at the 2500 block, noone present when police arrived"

guess where the police are when these are reported? sitting on hwy 40 somewhere or on the mountain....

ever noticed five or six cars broken nto on the same night? or five places broken into in 24 hours, the bad guys see this, they come into town and leave after they are done.


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