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Violent crime is up, property crime drops


Violent crime in Estacada increased last year while property crime dropped, according to recently released FBI statistics.

The town of 2,724 residents saw 10 violent crimes in 2011 — three robberies and seven aggravated assaults — up from five violent crimes — one rape and four aggravated assaults — in 2010, according to the FBI's annual Crime in the United States report for American cities.

Property crime decreased from 133 such cases in 2010 and 98 in 2011. The town had 12 burglaries in 2011, down from 24 in 2010; 77 thefts in 2011, down from 106 in 2010; and nine motor-vehicle thefts in 2011, up from three in 2010.

Nationally, violent crime fell for the fifth year in a row, dropping 3.8 percent in 2011. Property crime fell for the ninth year in a row, dropping by 0.5 percent.

The numbers are part of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which collects data on specific violent and property crimes. More than 18,200 city, county, state, federal, college/university and tribal law enforcement agencies voluntarily contributed data to the report. Oregon cities with more than 100,000 residents to take part in the program include Portland, Eugene, Salem and Gresham.

Oregon's rate of violent crime mirrored the national trend, dropping by 0.6 percent; however, property crime increased 3.4 percent.

In Gresham, violent crime dropped more than 11 percent, while overall property crime increased about 6 percent in 2011.

The number of violent crimes — defined as murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault — totaled 416, down nearly 11.5 percent from 470 in 2010 — Property crime — including burglary, larceny/theft and motor-vehicle theft — totaled 4,311, a 6.3 percent increase from 2010's total of 4,055.

Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger said he's pleased that the city is following the national and state trend in lower violent crime rates, “but unfortunately we're not following the national trend in property crime dropping,” he said.

In Gresham, all four categories of violent crimes saw decreases. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter dropped nearly 86 percent from 7 in 2010 to 1 in 2011. Forcible rape decreased by 26 percent from 42 in 2010 to 31 in 2011. Robbery dropped ever so slightly by 0.2 percent from 176 in 2010 to 172 in 2011. Aggravated assault also decreased by 1.3 percent from 245 in 2010 to 212 in 2011.

One of the three categories of property crime — motor-vehicle theft — also dropped 7.5 percent from 667 in 2010 to 617 in 2011.

The only two crimes to increase were burglaries and larceny-theft. Burglaries went up 1.1 percent, from 674 in 2010 to 751 in 2011. Larceny-theft increased 8.4 percent, from 2,714 in 2010 to 2,943 in 2011.

Burglary and theft also tend to be crimes of opportunity — an open window or a purse left in open view in a car can be too much temptation to resist, Junginger said.

Junginger also attributes the local increases in those crimes in part to the poor economy, which can create desperation dire enough that people “start stealing stuff,” he said.

The annual crime statistics need to be looked at in the greater context of how many crimes are included, especially in categories with very small numbers, such as murder and manslaughter, Junginger also said. “When you have low numbers and you're four or five less than the prior year, it is going to show a significant drop,” he said.

But the city's crime trends are on point if looked at over a seven-year timeframe, Junginger said. “Overall, in violent crimes, Gresham is trending down.”

Portland saw decreases in the number of murders, from 22 to 20, robberies and motor-vehicle thefts, but increases in rape, aggravated assault, burglary and theft. In Eugene, rape and motor-vehicle theft dropped, and the murder/manslaughter rate remained at zero. But robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and theft increased. Salem saw decreases in rapes and theft but increases in murder/manslaughter from 1 to 3, aggravated assault and burglary. The number of robberies and motor-vehicle thefts remained virtually unchanged.

Troutdale, the only other city in East Multnomah County to take part in the program, saw violent crime remain the same and a 7.2 percent increase in property crime. Murder/manslaughter went up from zero in 2010 to 1 in 2011, creating a 100 percent increase. Rape went up 25 percent, from 8 cases in 2010 to 10 in 2011. Robbery increased 28.6 percent, from 7 in 2010 to 9 in 2011. Aggravated assault was the only violent crime to drop, with a 50 percent decrease, from 10 in 2010 to 5 in 2011.

Of the three categories of property crimes, one — burglary — dropped 16.1 percent, from 87 in 2010 to 73 in 2011. Theft/larceny increased 13.3 percent, from 361 in 2010 to 409 in 2011. Motor-vehicle theft remained virtually the same, from 40 in 2010 to 41 in 2011.