Rural areas see spike in thefts and petty crime


WELLINGTON, Kan. (KSNW) – An increase in thefts and petty crime, two police chiefs in Kansas are responding to an uptick in people breaking the law.

Police in Arkansas City said since January, there has recently been a spike in thefts. Traveling 30 miles northwest, Wellington police are saying the same. It’s a trend that’s keeping the departments busy. 

In the last four months, both Wellington and Arkansas City Police Department chiefs said catalytic converter thefts are the most notable. 

Wellington Police Chief Tracy Heath said he has seen about 12 thefts in four months.

“We’re a small, rural community, we’re a small police department, but we still face big city issues,” said Heath. “The pain in our sides right now is converter thefts.”

Arkansas City Interim Police Chief Eric Burr said there have been 15 stolen converters since January and a third of those occurred in April alone.

“It’s really hard to determine locations, they’re kind of all over the place,” he said. 

Burr said some of these crimes can be difficult to track because they can come from across the state line or from the metro area. 

“Even if we’re lucky to get some video surveillance of you know of potential crime that happens, we may not know that person if they come out of the Wichita area,” he said. 

Heath said a trend he has noticed is the thieves don’t typically strike in one city. Between Wellington, Arkansas City and Winfield, Heath said thieves will hit all three, especially with shoplifting. 

“Once that person is done, they go back to the larger community,” said Heath. 

Both Chiefs said it is difficult to manage the recent spike but plan to increase their patrol in those hotspot areas. As for the residents in the area, officers said it is a great reminder to lock your cars, homes, and other important items to avoid further thefts. Also, they said to take valuables inside and to watch out for your neighbors.

Police cautioned that if you hear anyone with a saw, it could be a sign that someone is stealing a converter. They advised keeping an ear and eye out for thieves.

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