By Joe Bachman
Burglaries may be on an upswing, but so is the overall safety of Wisconsin Rapids.
According to a study done by Protect America, Wisconsin Rapids is considered a burglary “hot spot”. This study is based on data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
The study ranks Wisconsin Rapids No. 9 out of the top 10 Wisconsin burglary hot spots. Bayfield is cited as the top burglary hot spot, with Antigo, Racine and Milwaukee to follow. This year, Wisconsin Rapids has 87 reported burglaries, already above last year’s number of 75.
According to Wisconsin Rapids Police Lieutenant Brian Krzykowski, the reasons vary for burglaries, from financial gain through pawning electronics, to contributing to a drug habit, sometimes by trading goods for drugs.
“We always want that number to be low,” said Krzykowski. “The big thing we stress to our residents is locking your doors or garages.”
Burglars are known to access property through unlocked doors and garages. This year, out of all reported burglaries, only 43 residents had their doors locked during incidents.
The prevention of robberies in the area doesn’t just stop with locking doors, vehicles, and garages, according to the lieutenant.
“Whether it’s leaving your lights on at night, paying attention to your neighbors, especially if you have neighbors you can trust, you can keep an eye on your neighborhood and your residents,” said Krzykowski. “I also stress to people, if they go on vacation, or if they’re going to be gone for the weekend, not to be posting on social media that they’re gone.”
Krzykowski also recommends the installation of home security systems, cameras, or video doorbells that capture outside activity that can be seen from a smartphone. The lieutenant also recommends creating an inventory of electronics with serial numbers, as stolen devices can be traced, and sometimes returned to the owner if found.
There are ways residents can get involved to help decrease the number of burglaries in the area, as multiple communities have expressed interest in creating a neighborhood watch. Interested neighborhoods can contact police, who will provide them with information and a presentation of resources to get a neighborhood watch started.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. A 2016 report by backgroundchecks.org based on data compiled from FBI violent crime statistics ranked Wisconsin Rapids as the 25th safest city in Wisconsin. According to the their data, residents have only a 4.5 percent chance of being affected by property crime.
In addition, according to city-data.com, which uses the same FBI data, the violent crime rate in Wisconsin Rapids is well under half of the national average, according to 2014 statistics. While this area is considered safe by most studies, residents can continue to do their part in keeping it that way.
“We live in a very safe community, and we’re very fortunate because of that,” said Krzykowski. “We of course do not want any burglaries in our area, and we encourage people to report them.”