Santa Rosa, Sonoma County property crimes down in 2013

A surge in mail thefts around the county, a doubling of car break-ins in downtown Santa Rosa in December and a spree of burglaries in Petaluma were among the upticks in property crime that kept Sonoma County law enforcement busy in 2013.

Despite those resource-sapping spikes, the Sheriff's Office and Sonoma County's largest police department, Santa Rosa, reported an overall decrease in property crimes between 2012 and 2013.

The number of property crimes decreased 8.1 percent in Santa Rosa and 3.5 percent in Sonoma County.

Regardless, law enforcement said they had plenty to do.

"It sure didn't feel that way to me," Sheriff's Property Crimes Sgt. Mike Raasch said of the decline. He said 2013 was a busy year, perhaps because many of the cases detectives dealt with were particularly involved.

In one time-consuming case, he and other detectives identified more than a dozen suspects in a string of mail thefts going back as far as September.

Two suspects have been arrested, but law enforcement is still seeking the others.

The decline for the Sheriff's Office and Santa Rosa, as well as the state of California, followed an uptick in such crimes in 2012.

Between 2011 and 2102, Santa Rosa saw a 3 percent increase in the number of property crimes — larceny, burglary and auto theft. The sheriff's jurisdiction saw a 7.7 percent increase during the same time period, according to FBI statistics.

That uptick came at the end of a period in which property crime rates had decreased to historic lows. Researchers with the Public Policy Institute of California pointed to the shift of inmates from state prisons to county jails as a factor in the increase.

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