With more than 400 larcenies and burglaries reported in 2014, property crime continues to be the largest threat to Clayton residents.
As a whole, the tally of property crimes was slightly lower last year compared to 2013. The total number of larcenies, burglaries and vehicle thefts has fluctuated between 403 and 424 in the past four years.
Police Chief R.W. Bridges said as the town grows, so will the chance of people wanting to steal.
“It doesn’t mean we accept that as a given,” Bridges said. “We are going to do everything we can to prevent that, but a reasonable expectation is that certain crimes will continue.”
To curb property crimes, Bridges said educating the public is key. He said the department has a unit dedicated to informing citizens about preventing thefts and damage.
Several Clayton subdivisions fell victim to widespread car break-ins last year. Clayton detectives worked with police in multiple North Carolina counties to charge teenagers linked to most of the cases.
A lot of times, preventing car break-ins and other property crimes can be as simple as locking your doors, Bridges said. Security systems, neighborhood watch groups and street lighting can also help.
“These types of crimes are crimes of opportunity,” Bridges said. “If you remove the opportunity, you can reduce the crime.”
As for larcenies from businesses, the Clayton Walmart on U.S. 70 Business continues to be the most popular for shoplifters.
Bridges said his officers work well with Walmart’s loss-prevention staff to catch thieves. And rather than issuing them a citation, Bridges said his officers take shoplifters to jail.
“I want them to tell their friends this kind of thing is going on: ‘If you shoplift here, you are going to the Johnston County Jail,’” Bridges said.
Clayton’s violent crime index included two murders in 2014. The town didn’t have any murders in 2011, 2012 or 2013.
Last July 19, police charged Jose Louis Ramirez Delgado, 53, with stabbing Carlos Luis Rubio, 50, to death as the two men quarreled near the Clayton Mart on East Main Street. Detectives say Delgado and Rubio were drinking and knew each other.
Five months later, police accused 17-year-old Cortaz Quemel Lucas Jr. of fatally shooting Robert Lee Horton at Horton’s Clayton home in the early morning hours of Dec. 28. Detectives found and charged Lucas after a multi-state search along the East Coast. Police said a domestic dispute led to the shooting.
Bridges said it’s always alarming when people are killed in his jurisdiction. However, he said he’s somewhat comforted that the 2014 killings weren’t caused by an external factor but by disputes between the people themselves.
Other violent crimes reported in 2014 include three rapes, seven robberies and 26 aggravated assaults.
As for traffic enforcement, officers stopped 3,787 cars last year. They issued 2,233 citations, made 58 arrests, gave 866 verbal warnings, wrote 560 more warnings and took no action in 57 cases.
Officers responded to 690 wrecks in 2014, with 173 resulting in injuries, up from 122 in 2013. The one traffic death last year involved an elderly woman who had a medical incident while driving.
Bridges said his department works several operations on heavily-traveled U.S. 70 Business and secondary roads to prevent wrecks. Those efforts include DWI checkpoints and texting-while-driving operations.
Clayton police investigated five complaints about officers in 2014, down from six in 2013. One of the complaints was substantiated. Bridges said he could not talk about the complaint or what happened. He said the officer was disciplined but is still on the force.
Officers reported 21 defensive actions in 2014. Defensive actions are when officers use physical force or their weapons for self-defense, to affect an arrest or to respond to aggression or resistance.
Clayton police received 26,946 calls for service in 2014, or 2,778 more than the prior year.
For more information or to view Clayton’s 2014 crime report, go to www.townofclaytonnc.org/police.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104