Crime and auto thefts increase in Hermiston

HERMISTON, Oreg. - Overall crime went up slightly in Hermiston last year, but police say their efforts were a success.

Steven Price feels safe in Hermiston, but he did become a victim to a crime of opportunity.

"It only takes one time to open up your eyes, just one time," said Hermiston resident, Steven Price.

After having his car broken into, Steven now takes extra precautions.

"Close the doors, locked up, I do it routinely, everyday, doesn't matter what," said Price.

Hermiston Police believe if more people did the same, property crime might fall, instead of the five percent rise seen year to year. The Chief says most people make themselves sitting ducks.

"We know 55% of the time, the vehicles have the keys left in them," said Hermiston Chief Jason Edmiston.

It's why Hermiston PD will be initiating a new Street Crimes Unit. Two officers will focus primarily on property crimes, taking a proactive approach like the unit in Pasco to prevent crime instead of responding to frequent calls that divert their attention. Police are proud Hermiston has seen violent crime drop by more than a third year to year, despite seeing the highest number of calls for service in ten years.

"A lot of work to be done, one rape is too many, one burglary is too many, one robbery is too many," said Chief Edmiston.

Juvenile crime is also dropping in Hermiston, there was a large decrease a couple years ago and another drop last year.

"Too often we see the criminals we are arresting and years later we're arresting their kids because that is what they are used to, that is what they see," said Chief Edmiston.

Police say that the Street Crimes Unit will be put into place by the spring of this year.