Counterfeit, weapons law violations, robberies up in Medford

Medford police have seen a soaring number of cases involving counterfeit cash and weapons law violations so far this year, with both types of crime seeing jumps of more than 50 percent.

From January through July, the agency handled 237 counterfeit cases, a jump of 75.6 percent from the 135 cases seen in those months a year ago. Weapons violations jumped to 148, a 58 percent increase from 94 a year earlier.

Medford Police Chief Tim George said the counterfeit numbers are "alarming," but said it's not unexpected as color printers get better and cheaper and counterfeiters hone their skill.

"People are getting better at it," George said.

Concurrently, he said he is encouraged by the weapons law violations number as it means more weapons are out of the hands of felons. The category includes crimes that pertain to carrying a concealed weapon, being a felon in possession of a weapon, shooting in a prohibited area and other various violations.

"That's what I consider a good number," George said. "Most of the weapons law violations are stuff that we're taking. They are truly preventing crime. I'd like to see that number in the 70 percent range."

Robberies also increased, with 54 reported so far in 2013, compared with 2012's January through July figure of 39. George said the increasing numbers are tied to substance abuse where users need quick means to pay for their habit.

"Those are desperate people," George said.

Burglaries and thefts for 2013 each saw increases of 17 percent.

Some types of crimes did decrease. The number of DUII and vandalism cases both fell.

Assaults dropped to 867 from 941, about an 8 percent drop, but George pointed to the caveat that more serious aggravated assaults increased to 166 from 156. Arsons also saw a slight decrease, dropping to 31 from 34.

— Ryan Pfeil

See more details in Friday's paper.

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