FBI's annual statistics show crime is up in all seven categories tracked

Violent crime and property crime increased in Gresham in 2012, according to FBI crime statistics released this PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: FILE PHOTO - Violent crime and property crime increased in Gresham in 2012, according to FBI crime statistics.

The number of violent crime — defined as murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault — increased from 416 in 2011 to 487 in 2012, for an increase of 17 percent, according to the FBI's annual Crime in the United States report for American cities released Monday, Sept. 16.

Property crimes — or burglary, larceny/theft and motor-vehicle theft — totaled 4,858 in 2012, up from 4,311 in 2011, an increase of roughly 12.8 percent.

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

Nationally, the violent crime rate increased slightly, by 0.7 percent, in 2012. Property crime, however, fell for the 10th year in a row, dropping by 0.09 percent. Oregon, however, saw a slight decrease in violent crime, a 0.7 percent dip, but property crime went up 2.2 percent.

In Gresham, all four categories of violent crime and all three property crimes types saw increases. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter increased from 1 in 2011 to 4 in 2012. Forcible rape increased 6.4 percent from 31 in 2011 to 33 in 2012. Robbery rates increased 20 percent, from 172 in 2011 to 207 in 2012. Aggravated assaults also increased 14.6 percent, up from 212 in 2011 to 243 in 2012.

Burglaries increased by 18 percent, from 751 in 2011 to 886 in 2012. Larceny-theft went up 9.75 percent, from 2943 in 2011 to 3230 in 2012. Motor-vehicle theft also increased from 617 in 2011 to 742 in 2012, an increase of 20 percent.

Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger said increases are "obviously concerning to us, however, we are not unique. The other major cities in Oregon also experienced an increase in the same types of crimes, which demonstrates that the crime issues are more widespread than only in Gresham."

Salem, the state's third-largest city, also saw increases in every category and a murder rate that more than doubled from three in 2011 to seven in 2012.

Eugene, the state's second largest city, had less violent crime, but more property crime. The city had no murders in 2011 or 2012 and saw decreases in rape, aggravated assault and motor-vehicle theft but increases in robbery, burglary and larceny-thefts.

Portland, Oregon's largest city, had the same murder rate in 2012 as it did in 2011 — 20 — but fewer rapes and larceny/thefts. It did see increases in other violent crimes such as robbery and aggravated assaults, as well as property crimes, including burglary and motor-vehicle theft.

"We do review crime statistics during the year and try to pro-actively address the issues when we can," Junginger said. For example, property crimes tend to be crimes of opportunity and historically increase as the economy suffers. So the department often circulates warnings against leaving purses or other valuables in cars during the holiday shopping season.

The statistics also need to be looked at in the greater context of how many crimes are included, particularly those categories with small numbers, such as murder, he added.

Increases in crime of all types also highlights the need for longterm public safety funding, Junginger said, adding that work is now under way to place a five-year public safety and parks levy before voters in May.

"It is more important than ever with the rising crime trends that we maintain funding for the police department," he said.

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