With vehicle thefts down over multi-year period, APD looks to also lower DUI incidents with increased patrols

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - While the Alaska House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a compromise crime bill on Monday evening, the Senate has yet to vote on it next week. After that, it's off to the governor's desk.

Crime, however, isn't only a big debate at the state capitol; it's also a big concern on the streets of Anchorage. As such, the police department in Alaska's largest city has already begun implementing its own additional plans to help fight crime and - at least, according to department officials - it's paying off.

"We're happy to say that stolen vehicles continue to decrease and have been for approximately 10 months now," said Capt. Sean Case of the Anchorage Police Department.

The latest crime data provided by APD shows a decrease in car thefts over the past couple of years. At the end of April, APD had 549 confirmed cases of stolen vehicles so far this year. In 2018, APD recorded a total of 2,945 stolen vehicles, more than 2,700 of which were recovered. In 2017, there were 3,122 stolen vehicles, more than 3,000 of those returned to their owners one way or another.

Case said he attributes that not only to an increased number of officers patrolling the streets, but also to the additional steps taken in stolen vehicle incidents.

"We started having detectives come out and investigate every stolen vehicle," he said, "so what we're seeing is a higher rate of prosecution. And the detectives are linking stolen vehicles with burglaries and other thefts."

The numbers, however, aren't all good when you look at other incidents of crime within the municipality.

"One of the things we've seen in the first quarter of 2019 is an increase in fatality traffic collisions," Case said, "where drugs and alcohol are a factor."

That's after a year that included multiple fatalities that involved drivers allegedly under the influence. In June, for example, a 40-year-old man was rollerblading when he was fatally struck. A few months later a passenger in an S-U-V died when his driver - who was initially arrested for DUI - drove into Lake Hood.

"We've stepped up our enforcement a bit," Case said, "and so far this quarter, we have 50 additional - more - arrests than last year. And we're going to continue that enforcement."

To see the community crime map, provided by LexisNexis, click here.

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