This has been a challenging year for all of us. More time at home, more online meetings, etc.

Policing for the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office changed, as well. We handled more calls for service by phone, and deputies wore masks while making personal contact.

Crime trends were all over the map in 2020. Burglaries were down, but vehicle prowls and thefts went up.

There were more vehicle prowls at night in driveways of residences than in other years and plenty at hiking spots, but there were fewer people using the trails in 2020 so the criminals adjusted and started to target residences.

Mail and package theft rose in 2020 as more of us ordered things online for home delivery. Mailboxes were targeted by criminals looking for money or enough information to use your name to gain a credit card.

Burglary calls: 2020: 274; 2019: 304

Because more of the workforce worked from home in 2020, burglary numbers dropped from 2019.

Most burglaries occur during the day while you are normally working and or running errands. Your kids are usually at school, but that changed for many as students learned remotely.

Burglars target homes that look as if no one is home. Keep that in mind, and make your house look like people are home while you are away.

Theft: 2020: 486; 2019: 435

Online shopping increased during the pandemic and so did package and mail thefts.

“Porch pirates” drive through neighborhoods looking for visible packages on porches.

Work with the delivery company on the location of your package drop at your residence. Camera systems are a huge help, especially ones that give instant feedback on your smartphone.

Locking mailboxes are also important as a mail thief doesn’t want to waste time trying to defeat your lock. Make it difficult for them to get your mail.

Vehicle prowl: 2020: 283; 2019: 247

A slight jump in car break-ins for 2020 is due, in part, to prowlers changing their tactics and operating at night.

They will prowl your neighborhood looking for items of interest inside cars. If your car is unlocked, chances are they will rummage through your glove box and anywhere else they couldn’t see from the outside.

Trailheads still are the most popular spots for prowlers to hit. They will have multiple cars to look into and will take their chances breaking windows to grab valuable items they see.

Suspicious: 2020: 1,650: 2019: 1,775

This drop in suspicious calls is noteworthy.

Those are calls for service we want to see increase every year. Neighborhoods where residents look out for each other and call in suspicious activities are usually the ones where there is less crime.

Deputies routinely drive through your neighborhoods, but if we don’t live in there, we won’t know what is normal.

A car parked in a specific spot that has never been there before may look normal to a deputy driving through and the deputy may not think to check further into that.

However, you might know if that same car has never been there before and you should take note of that and ask neighbors if they recognize it. If the answer is no, call us to check it out.

Please have a safe and happy new year from all of us at the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.

— Chad Clark is undersheriff of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Send questions to scsocommunity@co.skagit.wa.us.

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