After several years on the decline, property crimes in Marietta and Washington County appear to be on their way back up through the first half of 2012.
Of the 259 crime reports received by the Marietta Police Department through the first six months of the year, 219 of them were against property.
Those 219 property crimes include 185 thefts, most of them taking place at Walmart and Kmart on Pike Street.
"The biggest problem we have is the thefts, and probably the biggest part of those are shoplifting," said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite.
For the Washington County Sheriff's Office, 89 of the 102 reports for categorized crimes were property related.
Those numbers are up from where they were a year ago, and police across the county agree it's not because people are struggling to make it in a tough economy.
Statistics for the first half of 2012*
Marietta Police Department
Burglary in an occupied structure: 4
Felonious assault: 2
Washington County Sheriff's Office
Aggravated burglary: 2
Aggravated murder: 1
Breaking and entering: 47
Felonious assault: 1
Gross sexual imposition: 3
Sexual battery: 1
Sexual imposition: 1
Highway Patrol Marietta Post (through July 16)
Fatal crashes: 3 (2 in Washington County, 1 in Morgan County)
Total crashes: 515
OVI arrests: 142
Driving under suspension: 195
Felony arrests: 13
Drug violations: 47
Enforcement stops: 3,648
Non-enforcement stops: 6,086
*Not all reports were found credible and resulted in arrests. Crimes for which there were no reports are not listed.
Sources: Marietta Police Department, Washington County Sheriff's Office.
"You have people stealing, but it's not to pay their electric bill," said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks. "It's to buy more drugs."
Waite said of the property crimes he's seen in the city the vast majority have been to support drug habits, including the city's biggest theft when two Pennsylvania men stole more than $6,000 worth of razor blades and Prilosec from Walmart in June.
Washington County Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane and Marietta Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar-Welch have joined together to seek funding to re-establish the county drug court to combat the trend.
The Ohio Highway Patrol has seen a substantial increase in drug arrests and seizures across the state as well, with heroin seizures alone up 327 percent.
"Our troopers are out on the roadways every day looking beyond the traffic stop - they are detecting and removing the criminal element from our communities," said Lt. Mary Pfeifer, commander of the Marietta Post in an emailed statement.
For the Marietta Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, which serves both Washington and Morgan County, there have been 3,648 enforcement stops for things like speeding and traffic violations as of July 16. There have also been 6,086 non-enforcement stops by state troopers.
The patrol has also made 142 arrests for OVI and handled 195 driving under suspension cases.
Troopers have made 13 felony arrests and had 47 drug violations.
Overall, there have been 515 total crashes in the two counties, including three fatalities.
Morgan County has had one fatal crash while Washington County roadways have seen two fatal crashes.
Those figures are below the same period from a year ago when there had been three fatal crashes in Washington County and three in Morgan County. In 2011, the Marietta Post had a total of 11 fatal crashes, including eight on Washington County roads.
"I would like to see that (fatal crashes) stay where it's at. One more is one too many," said Sgt. Michael Seabolt with the Marietta Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.
Along with the 185 thefts, Marietta Police have also received 27 reports of a burglary, with four of those being into an occupied structure. The city has also had three robberies.
Marietta Police received 33 reports of assaults, but of those six were determined to be unfounded and 10 more are on-going. Fourteen cases have resulted in arrests of an adult.
Given that the city has several bars, a certain amount of assaults is to be expected, Waite said.
City police have received just two reports of felonious assault, with one of those unfounded and the second investigation ongoing. Five rapes have been reported in the city, with one report unfounded and four more investigations on-going.
While property crimes are up, the overall trend for crimes in the city is on the decline. Figures from the U.S. Department of Justice show declines in five of the eight categories compiled by the department.
One of those, however, is property crimes which is on pace to exceed last year by 78.
In the county, those numbers are similar as burglary and breaking and entering offenses are on pace to exceed the total of 135 in 2011 by 38.
For 2011, the sheriff's office received 61 reports of breaking and entering. Already this year the office has received 47.
Burglary reports were 69 in 2011 and at 37 through the first six months of 2012.
The biggest number that Mincks said he has seen reported so far in 2012 however isn't crimes.
It's drug overdose fatalities.
Already this year the sheriff's office has investigated five fatalities due to an overdose, with a possible sixth.
"That's as many as we had in the entire year of '11," Mincks said.
In 2011, there were just five overdose fatalities and there were three in all of 2010. There were also five in 2009.
The county saw its first murder since June 2010 in January when Willard D. Baker was shot and killed. Steven Leonhart, 35, of 1862 Collins Road, Whipple, is accused of killing Baker and scheduled for trial in August.
That is one of only 13 violent crimes against a person reported to the sheriff's office. The sheriff's office has also received two kidnapping reports and six reports of menacing.
While property crimes appear to be on their way back up, that doesn't mean the valley isn't one of the safest around, Mincks said.
"I think we still are a really safe place to live," Mincks said. "However, I encourage people not to create the opportunity for theft."