Holiday season brings crime spike to Medford

'Tis the season for drunken driving, shoplifting, domestic violence and other not-so-festive behavior, according to Medford police.

The Thanksgiving holiday usually ushers in the department's busiest stretch of the year, said Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen.

"It's a shame," Hansen said. "The holidays are supposed to be a bright spot in the year for people, but they do bring out a lot of problems."

Hansen said the department's calls for service almost always spike during the holidays, as more people come into town to shop and drink.

"The roads are a lot busier all over the city," Hansen said. "The more cars on the road, the more chances you have for accidents."

The season brings with it an uptick in drunken driving, as businesses and individuals alike throw holiday bashes that include booze and old friends gather at local watering holes to catch up.

"In general, there are more parties this time of year," Hansen said. "Sometimes this is the only time of the year people drink."

Thanksgiving night historically has been a busy night for DUIIs as too many people have spent the day bingeing not only on turkey, but also alcohol.

Hansen suggests that anyone considering throwing a holiday party make sure to have designated drivers on hand to get intoxicated friends home safely.

"Don't let anyone leave your party and drive home if you suspect they have had too much to drink," Hansen said. "You don't want to be partially liable for an accident if it occurs."

The holidays also can be stressful for some, Hansen said, and that stress can be transferred to a responding police officer.

"You do deal with more depressed folks as a law enforcement officer this time of year," Hansen said. "People get down and sometimes try to self-medicate with alcohol, which never helps."

While most crime in Medford is committed by repeat offenders, during the holidays officers find themselves dispatched to houses they would be unlikely to visit at other times of the year.

"Sometimes we get folks who drink a little too much and get into altercations with family members," Hansen said. "These people might not ever had police called to their homes until this incident. Again, it's mostly linked to alcohol consumption."

Other problems arise in area shopping centers, which attract thieves during the Christmas crush, Hansen said.

"We see more shoplifting and more breaking into cars during the holidays," he said.

Many people load their cars with presents and leave them in plain view when heading into other stores. That's inviting a break-in, Hansen said.

"A lot of these suspects know what, say, an Xbox package looks like and if they see something in your car about that size, they won't hesitate to break in and get it. If it turns out to be something else, then they just dispose of it and try another car."

The sheer volume of cars pushing into the city during the shopping season makes it difficult for police to monitor parking lots.

"Sometimes people keep thousands of dollars of presents in their cars," Hansen said. "We suggest you lock them up in your trunk or drop them off at your house after purchasing them."

Theft is a continuing problem during the holidays, but the idea of drunk drivers swarming the roads remains the greatest concern to police.

The Medford department is planning increased DUII patrols until the end of the year, Hansen said.

"You don't want the holidays to be a time of accidents in which people lose their lives," Hansen said. "That's not what this time of year is about."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail

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