Morgan Hill hasn’t necessarily seen the uptick in property crimes that other communities have reported recently, but local police seem to be dealing more with criminals from outside the community - largely San Jose - who end up getting arrested in town for a variety of thefts and burglaries, according to the chief of police.
While a breakdown of the numbers until the end of 2012 doesn’t necessarily point to an empirical rise in out-of-town suspects offending in Morgan Hill, “anecdotally” in 2013 so far it seems that is the case, Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing said.
“It’s safe to say we’ve seen some significant cases of people from San Jose (and other communities) being arrested for property crime violations,” he confirmed. “There is certainly an impact with folks from outside Morgan Hill coming to Morgan Hill to commit crime.”
A recent example is the arrest of three suspected Sureno street gang members from San Jose early Monday morning on suspicion of stealing a vehicle, Swing said. Those suspects also had in their possession items from an earlier vehicle break-in in Morgan Hill.
Another is the arrest last week of three burglary suspects on West Main Avenue whose last known addresses were in cities in the Central Valley, police said. Officers found in the trio’s possession jewelry, a handgun and other items from at least two previous burglaries in Morgan Hill, as well as methamphetamine.
Numerous similar incidents abound, including the interrupted April burglary on Bellini Way in which three San Jose suspects were arrested; and another on Diana Avenue in January in which an elderly couple arrived home to find three young San Jose men in the process of stealing items from the home, police said.
Overall, “part one” (considered the most serious level of offenses) property crime incidents numbered 701 in 2012 in Morgan Hill, police said. That’s higher than the previous three-year average of 672 incidents.
In 2013 there has been no shortage of similar crimes, including a series of home and vehicle burglaries reported just Saturday and Sunday. According to police logs, at least seven such incidents were reported those days, with items stolen including jewelry, a handgun, purses, a camera, checkbooks and even a Yamaha motorcycle.
Swing noted that Morgan Hill’s “clearance rate,” or the rate at which suspects end up convicted, for property crimes is about 22 percent. That’s just above the national average of 21 percent for cities the size of Morgan Hill.
The chief credits a “two-pronged” approach of good police work and astute citizen witnesses for helping to solve so many of the city’s thefts and burglaries.
Swing said he can’t pinpoint a reason for the surge in property crimes, which has been reported by numerous other communities since 2013 started. It’s also unknown why more out-of-towners are being arrested here.
A San Jose police spokesman said his department is not aware of a rise in San Jose residents being arrested in Morgan Hill or other communities. Although the City of San Jose has cut its police department drastically in recent years, police have not cut back on probation or parole checks, or other activities intended to keep known offenders in check, SJPD Officer Albert Morales said.
In fact, San Jose police have increased their gang-related enforcement efforts, including probation checks, in recent months, Morales said.