Thefts increase in Franklin County

The KEPR Crime Tracker is taking a closer look at thefts in Franklin County. And it's not just because it's that "time of year." Action News found both rural and residential areas are both being hit.

It may be just another day at the potato processing plant, but *never a day off to ward off thieves.

"Whatever they can grab," said Quality Assurance Manager Jared Smith.

The farming life also has its cons.

"There's not as many people and more opportunity for people to take things," stated Smith.

It's pieces of metal equipment like these in rural areas that make for easy targets for thieves.

"People coming around the scrap-yard and stealing equipment on occasion," said Smith.

It's just the crime the Franklin County Sheriff's Office is tracking. People snagging fence wiring and metal-hose heads -- then selling it to salvage companies. It's part of the reason thefts are up in Franklin County -- by 40% from last year. Burglaries have also increased -- by almost 30%.

It's not necessarily that things are so bad -- it's more a reflection that things were so *good in 2011. Crime was abnormally low last year.

"Last year was probably one of our lowest years on record for burglaries and thefts," said Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim.

In recent weeks -- property crimes have been reported at the north end of Franklin County -- and closer to the Tri-Cities -- concentrated near Roads 48 and 84 in Pasco.

Car prowls are also up. Auto theft numbers are steady. The Sheriff says it's a matter of you protecting yourself as well.

"I have had friends that have had things that have been stolen, yeah," admitted Smith.

"Until they get caught, they can do a lot of damage to your numbers," said Sheriff Lathim.

It's why the Sheriff is partnering with other statewide officials -- making deals with salvage companies to create no-sell lists for scrap metal. They're hoping it can crack down on thefts for everyone.

"I hope that in 2013 we don't have any problems," added Smith.

The Grant County Sheriff was the first agency to bring together all 39-statewide sheriffs. That county has already seen improvement after implementing the no-sell lists. The Franklin County Sheriff says local salvage companies are already compiling those lists -- preventing future thefts that much sooner.