City’s ‘serious’ crime numbers show steep decline in first eight months of year

Sean C. Morgan

Mid-year statistics show a 43-percent decrease in “serious” crimes in Sweet Home to date this year.

As of Aug. 23, Sweet Home Police Department had an 8-percent decline in its number of calls for service, from 6,813 the same date last year to 6,249 this year.

As of July 31, the department had 256 reports of Part I crimes, a classification in the annual FBI Uniform Crime Reports that includes criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor-vehicle theft and arson.

The same date in 2015, the department had 365 reports of Part I crimes.

By far, the most common Part I crime is theft. As of July 31, Sweet Home had 205 reported thefts, down from 298. It had 32 burglaries, down from 37; 11 motor-vehicle thefts, down from 25; four aggravated assaults in both years; one robbery in both years; two rapes in 2015, up from zero in 2016; one arson, up from zero; and no homicides in either year.

“The vast majority of our crime reports are thefts,” said Police Chief Jeff Lynn. “They are the crimes people notice. We’ve tried to increase our tenacity at trying to solve some of them.”

And the number of thefts is down by nearly 100, a third, Lynn said. He hesitates to take too much credit for the decrease in reports, which can fluctuate year to year in a small town like Sweet Home.

With Sweet Home’s small population, “a small number of people can create a lot of havoc in the community,” Lynn said.

An important factor, therefore, is who is circulating in the community, Lynn said.

The department deals with about 5 percent of the population causing 95 percent of the problem, he said.

At this point, “we’re cautiously optimistic,” Lynn said. “The 42-percent reduction in Part I crimes is really something to focus on. I’d like to think the community is helping as well, securing some of their items, hardening the targets and making things inaccessible.”

He recalled pulling numbers for bike thefts in around 2014, Lynn said, and the vast majority of stolen bicycles had been unsecured, left out in the open.

People should be able to leave their possessions out and vulnerable, but that’s not what’s going on, Lynn said. “In a perfect world, we could leave everything unlocked.”

In addition to tabulating mid-year crime statistics recently, Lynn also gathered statistics about Oregon Jamboree weekend, July 29-31, the busiest weekend of the year for Sweet Home police.

This year, the department responded to 223 calls, down from 231 in 2015, up from 219 in 2014 and down from 231 in 2013.

By comparison, Memorial Day weekend had 134 calls this year; Sportsman’s Holiday, 115; a mid-July weekend, 168; the weekend prior to Jamboree, 136; and the weekend after Jamboree, 130.

Of the 223 calls, 47 were on the Oregon Jamboree grounds or in a campground associated with the Jamboree. Some 170 involved a local resident who was either a complainant or victim.

Of the 223, 197 involved a suspect. Of those suspects, 119 were local residents.

Between Thursday and Monday of Jamboree weekend, officers conducted 167 traffic stops.