Some Odessa crimes decreased in 2020-21

Burglaries in Odessa increased by 24.52 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, but overall property and violent crimes dropped significantly, crime statistics recently reported by the Odessa Police Department detail.

The most significant decrease was in aggravated assaults, which dropped from 1,000 in 2019 to 788 in 2020, a 21.20 percent decrease, police records show.

“I think it’s a trend in the right direction,” Police Chief Mike Gerke said during a phone interview. “But we have a lot of work to do.”

Overall, violent crimes dropped 20.80 percent in 2020. Reported rape cases decreased from 141 in 2019 to 115 in 2020. During the same period, the number of robberies dipped from 128 to 106. The number of murders for both years remained at 13.
Gerke said he would like to see the number of violent crimes in Odessa continue to shrink.

“Violent crimes are still much higher than we’d like it to be, but we’re making progress,” Gerke said. In 2020, the city recorded the lowest number of violent crimes since 2017, Gerke noted.

The police department last year began taking several initiatives aimed at trying to reduce the number of violent crimes occurring in the city, Gerke said.

“We went after those with guns, who shouldn’t have them,” Gerke said. “Everyone has a right to have a gun except felons, or those who don’t register their weapons.

“We targeted those people hard and heavy and ended up confiscating guns from more than 100 people.”

Property crimes in Odessa, overall, decreased by 9.66 percent in 2020, Gerke said. Recorded larcenies dropped from 2,656 cases in 2019 to 2,200 cases in 2020, a 17.17 percent drop. Auto thefts dipped slightly from 499 to 490. The number of burglaries increased from 469 cases to 584.

A trend in lower crime rates has continued through the first four months of 2021, according to the most recent statistics available. Overall, crime has decreased from 1,465 incidents from January to April 2020 to 1,181 cases during the same period in 2021, Gerke said.

During the same four-month time frame, the number of murders has decreased from 6 to 2, assaults cases 282 to 159, burglaries 218 to 151, larcenies dipped from 729 to 669, and auto thefts shrank from 149 to 117.

Arson incidents increased from 3 to 5 during the same four-month period in 2021 compared to 2020. The number of rapes, 45 has continued at the same pace for both years.