Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver
(Douglas County, Colo.) The county’s crime rate is growing faster than its population, according to the 2021 Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Statistics Summary.
The report shows Douglas County’s population grew by 2% during 2021, while overall crime increased by 8%. Between 2017 and 2021, crime in the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction increased by 9%, while the population grew by 8%, according to the summary.
The report also shows violent crime, which includes murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, increased by 21%. Aggravated assaults increased by 15%, of which 40% were menacing charges. Forcible rapes increased by 27%.
“Although national crime data is not yet available, many major cities across the United States have reported significant increases in homicides and other violent crimes in 2021,” the report stated. “According to preliminary data (from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations), violent crime in the State of Colorado increased 10%, and there was an 18% increase in murder between 2020 and 2021.”
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter in Douglas County remained steady during 2021, with no increases.
Forcible fondling, robbery and identity theft were listed as the fastest growing crimes during 2021, according to the Statistical Summary. These crimes grew by 161%, 106% and 90%, respectively.
According to the sheriff’s report, increases in forced fondling could be due close living proximity enforced by COVID-19 and resumed opportunities to report cases.
“The large increase in forcible fondling may be due, in part, to cases between siblings and other family members that occurred during the COVID-19 lockdowns but didn’t get reported until 2021 when mandatory reporters were notified,” the report stated. “As a note, most of the sex crimes reported in Douglas County involve suspects known to their victims.”
The statistics in the summary do not include crimes from Aurora, Castle Rock, Littleton, Lone Tree or Parker, as those municipalities have their own police forces.
Domestic violence offenses increased in 2021 by 2% overall with a total of 550 cases reported throughout the year. There were 541 domestic violence cases reported in 2020, which was an increase of 29% from 2019. Two other crime types were grouped with domestic violence offenses: non-criminal family disturbances, which decreased by 14% from 527 reports in 2020 to 453 reports in 2021; and mental health holds, which increased by 21% from 546 holds in 2020 to 658 the following year.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office reported 37 robbery cases in 2021, up from 18 in 2020. Comparably, robberies grew by 85% from 2017-2021. Deputies were able to clear 25 of the cases, a rate of 68%.
Most robberies (26) occurred in the Highland Ranch area, according to the Statistical Summary. This is up 136% from 2020, when 11 robberies were reported.