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Pandemic helps reduce Ripon crime rate 20%
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While Ripon has always been known as a “safe” community, it appears that the COVID-19 pandemic is helping make the family-friendly community even safer.

According to data and statistics released last week by the Ripon Police Department, Type 1 crimes – those that are reported to the FBI for tracking purposes such as homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson – are down almost 20 percent compared to the same time period the previous reporting year.

Through the beginning of August, a total of 193 Type 1 crimes were reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting Database compared to 243 through the same period in 2019.

Comparing the two years, 2020 has seen a reduction of 22 percent in larceny – also known as theft – and a 17 percent reduction in simple assaults.

Reductions in burglary, rape, and robberies were also statistically significant when comparing the two years side-by-side.

Authorities believe that the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter in place orders that were issued earlier this year have a significant role in why the so-called “quality of life crimes” – burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft, and other “property” crimes – have dropped so noticeably.

Because more people were staying home and have transitioned into working from home while students prepare to go back to school remotely, the typical “crimes of opportunity” aren’t as opportune as they were when people were working outside of their home for most of the day.

“It’s a small sample size so it’s hard to say for sure, but a lot of these quality of life crimes are usually committed when people believe that the homeowner is not there – they’re quick and they want to get in and get out as quickly as possible,” Ripon Police Lieutenant Danny Sauer said. “When people are at home, those opportunities aren’t as available.”

And technology has started to play a more critical role in helping smaller communities like Ripon and Lathrop get the upper hand on criminal activity and aid in protecting the residents who live there.

While Ripon has long relied on its extensive network of cameras throughout the community that allow for real-time monitoring of specific intersections and strategic locations, the implementation of license plate reading technology has enabled dispatchers and officers to identify those believed to be responsible for criminal activity as they come into town from the Jack Tone Road freeway interchange and other points.

In the last several years Ripon has upgraded its extensive camera system – all 76 cameras deployed throughout the city – to allow for better clarity and night-vision. The city also has 12 license plate reading cameras that are installed and are in the process of installing 10 more.

By scanning license plates against a database of vehicles reported stolen or involved in criminal activity, officers can thwart crimes before they happen – something that other communities in the South County have begun to embrace.

The City of Lathrop recently began using the same technology throughout the community, and the city’s new police department – currently under construction in River Islands – will feature a wall of monitors that can be viewed by staff remotely in much the same way Ripon’s dispatchers look for anything out of the ordinary while monitoring and connecting calls to officers on the street.

Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann has said in the past that the technology provides an additional tool for officers to utilize while serving as additional “eyes” when patrol deputies may not physically be there on site.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.