By Sarah Snyder
As West Texas cities grow, so do the crime rates.
Over the past few weeks, NewsWest 9 has informed you about the increase of burglaries in cities like Odessa and Lamesa, and we have new city to add to that growing list, Fort Stockton.
It's an all time high, the police department in Fort Stockton has received 14,000 calls to dispatch this year up 2,000 from last year.
"To us, it is shocking, because we used to be a very peaceful community," Elfida Morales, long time Fort Stockton neighbor, said.
It's anything but peaceful at the Fort Stockton dispatch, they're answering more calls than ever - everything from domestic disturbances to the latest slew of burglaries.
"When you have more people coming in, you're going to have more of these types of situations," Lt. Louis Hernandez, with the Fort Stockton Police Department, said..
One of the latest problems has been burglaries - particulary shoplifting in the northwest part of town.
"We're answering the best we can," Lt. Hernandez said. "We're doing the best we can with what we have."
"We have seen the crime rate going up," Morales said. "Like I've noticed, Fort Stockton is really growing which is very good for us, but at the same time, there's a lot of people we've noticed or seen alot of different faces in town and maybe that has a lot to do with the crime rate."
Most of the activity happens after work and school lets out.
"In the evening hours, between 3 and 11, we get the highest peak time hours that we get most calls this year than we've had in the past," Fort Stockton Dispatcher Ricardo Contreras, said.
And police say, most of the arrests are drug-related. Lt. Hernandez says if there were no drug-users, they would need to hire additional officers.
"We are in the process of working with the city council, the Mayor, City Manager, and trying to hire 5 more police officers for the city for patrol reasons, increase our criminal investigation, and increase our communication division," Lt. Hernandez said.
Fort Stockton police plan to add 5 new officers in the spring after they graduate from nearby academies.
"Fort Stockton Police Department is not blaming the organizations that are coming into Fort Stockton, we welcome them with open arms, but we want to make sure we're going to do our job and do our job correctly," Lt. Hernandez said.
"We are more cautious as to looking behind us, locking our doors, our cars, making sure our kids are safe," Morales said.