Roeland Park sees lowest crime rate in a decade; launches initiative to curb theft

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jan 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-24 19:00:51-05

ROELAND PARK, Kan. -- Theft is the number one problem facing thousands of business owners and homeowners in northeast Johnson County.

One city is taking new action to help stop thieves in their tracks.

Officer Trevor Harrison joined the Roeland Park Police Department a year ago.

In that year, the city of more than 6,700 residents experienced the lowest crime rate in a decade.

"It doesn't surprise me, but it's always a nice surprise to see how low they actually went," Harrison told 41 Action News Wednesday.

The following graph illustrates the crimes reported in Roeland Park from 2006 to 2017: 


There was a significant drop in 2017; there were 178 reported incidents.

They attribute their success to this:

"We take the data that we collect from police reports and calls for service to let us know where we need to focus our attention on crime and traffic safety," Sgt. Randy Costlow, with Roeland Park Police Department, said.

A majority of the crime, 80 percent, is due to theft.

Harrison said the city's business district keeps them busy. 

"You can stop, you've got gas, Walmart, hardware, Lowe's, cellphone stores," Harrison said. "So it's easy for people to come in, go into a store, grab something, run right out the door and hit the interstate."

That's why this year their objective is to crack down on those criminals.

One way they're doing so is by using a light blue Ford Mustang.

"It's kind of an eye-catcher. It catches your attention as you're walking into the store; you realize we're going to be in there," Harrison said. 

The vehicle, donated by Benfer's Tow, is part of the department's new retail crime enforcement unit.

Early Wednesday afternoon, it was parked in front of the Walmart on Roe Avenue.

"It could sit there all day. We might hop in it and go somewhere else with it," Harrison said. "It's there to be visible and a deterrent and let people know that we're out and about."

They're not only relying on the Mustang.

The department added it will continue to use resources like undercover officers to detect potential criminals.

They plan to evaluate the retail crime enforcement unit in a few months.

41 Action News did reach out to neighboring cities in northeast Johnson County who have also seen a reduction in crime in 2017.

In both cities, theft was the number one crime committed.