Behind the statistics: Sheriff discusses spike in Park County crime

Problem Solvers

Crime spike in Park County (KDVR)

PARK COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — FOX31 Problem Solvers are tracking the trends in crimes across Colorado and the impact the pandemic has put on the past year.

Park County, a scenic stretch of the state, has a small group of sheriff’s deputies very busy lately.

“We’re almost 23,00 square miles, on a good day we would have four people for the entire shift,” Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw said.

Crime has spiked in several of the Park County mountain towns with reports more than doubling from 89 in 2019 to 189 in 2020.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had an increase in domestic violence,” McGraw said. “People are staying home more so that’s been a problem area.”

Domestic violence reports increased two and a half times from 37 reports in 2019 to 92 in 2020. McGraw thinks pandemic restrictions are one of the reasons for the increase.

“I’m hoping as COVID restrictions ease up and people go out more, it will go down a bit, we’re hoping,” he said. 

Another area he’s hoping settles down is reported thefts. They doubled from 32 to 62 in the county, targeting full time residents and those who call the county their home away from home.

“We felt like it was our little paradise and that really hurt it invaded our paradise,” victim and property owner Jean Vanim Botting said. 

Botting tells FOX31 thieves stole $2,500 plus in items from their RV, days after they visited on Memorial Day weekend. 

“That’s definitely a major thing that we have homes up here that are empty a lot and they are very easy for burglars to ascertain they are empty,” McGraw said, adding “In the wintertime, their driveways are not plowed, there’s no footprints going up.”

McGraw recommends that people with cabins and second homes get video camera surveillance. He says cameras help their team catch one of two of the thieves responsible for a majority of their uptick.

“We do have a fairly good record of catching those people responsible for those actions,” McGraw said. 

The sheriff also has a good record of preventing wildfires before they start.

“We were very aggressive, we wrote a lot of tickets,” McGraw said. “It’s a $500 ticket the first time for having a campfire. I’m just hoping we have good summer.”

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