Douglas County crime increases as car thefts surge
Crime is on the rise in Douglas County, sheriff’s official said this week.
Statistics for the first half of 2002 show an increase in most crime categories, compared to the same period in 2001.
Car thefts saw the biggest increase, more than doubling. Forty car thefts were reported to the sheriff’s office last year, compared to 19 in 2001. That is an increase of 16 percent.
Chief Deputy Bob Rudnick of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office attributed the spike in car thefts to juvenile crime in Carson Valley. About 10 cars were taken during one spree, he said.
Crime for Douglas County was not broken down, to differentiate between the valley and Lake Tahoe.
Rudnick did attribute partial numbers for thefts, which rose from 288 cases in the first half of 2001 to 329 cases in the first half of 2002, to gamblers leaving valuables unattended. Many cases of women who left purses by their side while playing slot machines, then finding the bags missing could attribute to the hundreds of thefts, Rudnick said.
Another contributor is thieves taking snowboards or skis sitting on top of vehicles. Rudnick advised visitors to Lake Tahoe to put snowplay equipment out of sight.
Robberies, in which somebody takes something by threat or force from somebody else, remained steady. Burglary, the unlawful entrance of a building or vehicle to steal, increased by 16 cases from 93 incidents in 2001.
Domestic battery fell slightly. Rudnick believed the improvement of reporting, social services and information available kept that figure steady.
The only murder in the first part of 2002 is being contested by the person accused of it. Christopher Fiegehen, 23, is charged in the early morning assault on Alan and Lorelle Chorkey Feb. 10, 2002. Alan Chorkey died from fatal stab wounds to his carotid artery and jugular vein. Lorelle Chorkey was critically injured by two bullets in the back of her head and in her chest. She reportedly named Fiegehen as her attacker as she entered surgery.
Overall, the population of Douglas County, especially in the valley, attributed to the crime increase.
“Douglas County has experienced a lot of growth,” Rudnick said. “We continue to grow more at the valley than the lake. Any time you have growth, hopefully you won’t have a substantial increase in crime, but you anticipate an increase in some of these areas.”
First six months of 2001 compared to first six months of 2002:
Assault — 238 to 251
Burglary — 93 to 109
Car theft — 19 to 40
Domestic battery — 134 to 131
Murder — 0 to 1
Robbery — 6 to 5
Theft — 288 to 329