MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- Madison County Sheriff's Office deputies reported the crime statistics for the 2016 year, as compared to the year before.
They made the announcement on social media, listing the number of violent crime reports as the following:
- Homicides: 5 (down 37% from 8 in 2015)
- Robbery: 44 (down 12% from 50 in 2015)
- Rape: 33 (up 10% from 30 in 2015)
- Burglary: 602 (down 9% from 659 in 2015)
- Theft of Property: 1669 (up 9% from 1519 in 2015)
Chief Deputy Dave Jernigan said burglary and theft of property continue to be huge issues for law enforcement not just here, but nationwide.
Lt. Brian Chaffin attributed 2016's increase in thefts to multiple factors that may include people forgetting to lock up their property, but also an increase in Madison County's population. More people would mean a higher caseload.
He said that also puts a strain on deputies.
"Of course, we in law enforcement are always shorthanded. There's not a quick fix to manpower, but we do the best we can with what we've got to work with."
He added that social media can be a big help in those times, as law enforcement work to decrease crime rates in the county.
"On our shortages of manpower, we use social media outlets, also the news media, and rely on them in situations where we need to push information out," he explained. Lt. Chaffin said it also helps because those who are plugged into their communities can get tips to law enforcement about suspicious activity. That often leads to cases being solved.
"The more information we can get, the better the chances of us solving a case or making an arrest," he explained.
Social media can also be an important tool for you to keep from being one of the victims of property theft. The MCSO is active on Next Door, a neighborhood website connecting people who live in the same area.
"If you see something that does not look right, report it. That's the big thing," Lt. Chaffin said.
The Madison County Sheriff's Office also offers some services to help you feel more at ease in your neighborhood.
The first is Vacation Check. If you'll be away from home, deputies will cruise past your house at your request, looking for suspicious activity.
The second is Patrol Frequently. Deputies assigned to your area can keep a closer eye on your neighborhood if you have problems like speeders or stop sign runners.
You can call their non-emergency number at 256-722-7181 to set this up.