Thieves, scam artists and fraudsters make off with less and less in Park City |

Thieves, scam artists and fraudsters make off with less and less in Park City

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Thieves, scam artists and other fraudsters reported to be operating in Park City in 2010 made off with less merchandise or suspected ill-gotten monies than during any year since at least the middle of the 1990s, the Park City Police Department reported, continuing a downward trend in losses suffered in the city.

The Police Department is pleased with the numbers, which show that the losses have fallen dramatically over the last 15 years. The losses tallied in both 2010 and 2009 were down sharply from any year since 1996.

According to the Police Department, the losses reported in 2010 totaled $543,265. The year before, the total sat at $544,032. In the period between 1996 and 2008, the lowest total was reported in 2000, when $699,856 in losses was recorded.

In some of the past years, when the numbers spiked, high-priced goods like jewelry and artworks were lost. The highest total between 1996 and 2010 was the just more than $1.7 million reported lost in 2006. The figure topped $1 million four times in that period.

Wade Carpenter, the police chief in Park City since 2008, said the Police Department has been especially aggressive in targeting thieves during his time as the top law enforcement officer in Park City. The aggressiveness has resulted in the falling losses in the last two years, he said.

"We’ve got better at policing. We’re more proactive in what we’re doing," Carpenter said, acknowledging that he is unsure how far the figure could eventually fall.

Recommended Stories For You

Carpenter described a policing theory to which the department now ascribes, known in law enforcement circles as sector accountability. Under the theory, officers are assigned to specific beats. The Police Department has carved Park City into four sectors, and officers are assigned to one of the sectors as their prime territory. The sectors are: Old Town; Deer Valley; a wide swath of Prospector that includes Park City High School, the Rail Trail and the business district; Park Meadows and Thaynes Canyon.

"They take ownership in that area. If they start to lose property in that area, it reflects on that officer," the chief said.

The sectors were in place in 2009 as well, another year of dramatic decline in the dollar value of the losses, Carpenter said.

"With the high-profile policing, we drive them out of those areas," he said.

Two complaints filed as fraud cases accounted for more than 10 percent of the overall total in 2010, the police chief said, indicating that the two cases involved approximately $65,000 between them.

Meanwhile, other losses included in the 2010 total included stolen skis, bicycle thefts and shoplifting cases. Each of those categories is standard fare for the Police Department on an annual basis.

The police regularly caution people to keep track of their sporting goods like bicycles and skis, and the Police Department offers registration programs meant to ward off thieves and increase the chances of the equipment being returned to the owner if it is stolen and later recovered.

In another figure that pleases the Police Department, the recovery rate of lost property was solid in 2010. The value of the recovered property, $230,707, equaled 42.5 percent of the value of what had been reported lost in the year. The rate was the highest since 2007, when the figure sat at 50.7 percent.

The number of burglaries reported in 2010, meanwhile, 34, was the lowest since at least 1996. The tally of reported thefts in 2010 fell to 272, also the lowest since at least 1996.