« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Helmut Schmidt, Published October 17 2013

Rising number of burglaries, thefts a boost for some businesses

FARGO – When people are nervous, business is good for Steven Gaber and Don Fischer.

The Fargo businessmen operate Sentry Security and Cell North Spy Shop, respectively. As crimes make the news, demand for their services has gone up.

And burglaries are definitely making the news, as the rate of burglaries reported in Fargo-Moorhead’s three biggest cities so far is higher in 2013 than in 2012 – an increase that has been especially sharp in West Fargo and Fargo.

Fargo has also seen a big increase in vehicle break-ins through the first two-thirds of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.

Gaber credits part of the rise in his mobile patrol service to an increase in the metro area’s “transient community,” as companies deal with break-ins and vagrants. But it’s not just businesses that are worried, he said.

He is considering offering a neighborhood watch service, similar to those more common on the coasts.

“I think there’s a change in society and in Fargo,” Gaber said. “I think we’re going to see companies like ours providing a mobile security presence to a whole neighborhood, and not just a specific house at a time.”

Fischer said if the area has a run of assaults or burglaries, he also gets busier.

“We do more home securities than we used to,” he said.

Pepper spray and stun gun sales have also risen, Fischer said, thanks to a change in state law that allows stun guns to be carried without a concealed weapons permit, and because of crime in the Oil Patch.

The Fargo area is losing its small-town feel, he said.

Some people now “just feel safer” with a weapon, he said.

Burglaries up in 2013

Some crimes appear to have gone up significantly this year in Fargo.

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 15, there were:

E 437 burglaries, 140 more than during the same period in 2012, an increase of 47 percent.

E 438 unlawful vehicle entries, 118 more than the same period in 2012, an increase of 37 percent.

Part of the increase is due to police cracking down on thefts from vehicles, resulting in seven arrests in the last few weeks, Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said.

Vettel said there have also been two significant arrests tied to a rash of burglaries.

Aggravated assaults are also up, with 172 through Sept. 15, 25 more than in the same period in 2012 for an increase of 17 percent.

Some serious crimes have declined in Fargo in the first two-thirds of 2013 over last year. Gross sexual imposition reports have decreased 23 percent, from 44 in 2012 to 34 this year.

Theft is also down 8 percent in Fargo. There were 744 thefts reported so far this year, down 68, or 8 percent, from the same period in 2012.

In West Fargo, there have already been more burglaries this year than in 2012, according to reports provided by Assistant Police Chief Mike Reitan.

There were 94 simple burglaries reported through Oct. 9, and 15 burglaries that have taken place at night, or involved weapons or injuries. Through all of 2012, there were 60 simple burglaries, and 16 that took place at night, or involved weapons or injuries.

Property thefts rates are running roughly steady in West Fargo.

There have been 90 theft of property cases through Oct. 9, plus 29 involving thefts of property worth more than $500, and 13 thefts of property worth more than $250.

In all of 2012, there were 127 theft of property cases, plus 53 involving thefts over $500 and 20 for property worth more than $250.

The rate of aggravated assaults and thefts from vehicles appears to be down from 2012, to the reports provided by Reitan show.

In Moorhead, Lt. Tory Jacobson said from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 in 2012 and 2013:

E Burglaries increased in 2013, with 111 reported this year compared to 105 in the same period in 2012.

Burglary numbers were boosted by a 50 percent increase in that crime in July and August, attributed mostly to storage unit break-ins, which are a problem throughout the metro area, Jacobson said.

E Theft cases are down, with 445 reported so far in 2013, compared with 464 in the same period last year.

E Aggravated assaults are up so far this year, with 148 reported. Last year, there were 131 reported through the end of August, Jacobson said.

Not big for all

Not every business that works in security has seen increasing sales. Representatives of home security firms who were contacted said they have not seen a big rise.

Mark Kraft of Night Owl Security said he has been selling alarms to owners of upper-end homes, which already have lots of other amenities; to owners of remote lake homes; and to people who have had a break-in and want more security.

“We have some people that should have alarms that don’t,” Kraft said. “Other people don’t have much, but they have one and they feel safe.”

Daryle Hersrud, president of Fargo’s Electro Watchman, said if a homeowner decides to install a system, he suggests picking a reputable local firm, rather than hiring one of what he called “doorknockers” who sell door-to-door in areas that are experiencing a rash of thefts.

Buying quality equipment will also cut down on false alarms and be more dependable, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583