FBI: Local crime rate on upswing

Sean C. Morgan

The crime rate in Sweet Home increased significantly from 2013 to 2014, increasing by 17.4 crimes per 1,000 population, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports released on Sept. 28.

The rate increased from 56.6 crimes per 1,000 to 74 per 1,000 population, based on an estimated population of 9,081, which was up from an estimated 9,035. Sweet Home had 672 crimes reportable to the FBI, up from 511.

The violent crime rate increased from a rate of 1.1 per 1,000 in 2013 to 2.64 per 1,000 population in 2014.

The number of reportable property crimes increased from 501 in 2013 to 648 in 2014, an increase in the rate from 55.5 property crimes per 1,000 population to 71.36 per 1,000 in 2014.

Violent crimes include rape, robbery, aggravated assault, murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Sweet Home reported one rape, six robberies and 17 aggravated assaults in 2014. The city had one rape, four robberies and five aggravated assaults in 2013.

Property crime includes burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. Sweet Home reported 83 burglaries, 535 thefts, 30 motor vehicle thefts and no arsons in 2014. Sweet Home had 82 burglaries, 398 thefts, 21 motor vehicle thefts and no arsons in 2013.

“What’s driving our figures are the thefts, particularl third-degree theft offenses,” said Police Chief Jeff Lynn. Those are thefts of items worth $100 or less.

Compared to the city’s historically record year for call volume, 2005, the number of third-degree thefts is up, while the number of higher value first- and second-degree thefts is down.

Shoplifting numbers are higher at a couple of businesses in recent years, Lynn said.

Shoplifting is typically third-degree theft. Safeway reported 81 third-degree thefts in 2014, up from 53 in 2013 and 50 in 2012. In 2005, it reported just 11.

Lynn said some of that change could be because the business is catching more of the thefts.

Among the burglaries, 44 were residential, Lynn said. That’s down from 2005, when Sweet Home experienced 105 residential burglaries.

“I attribute that to drug use and abuse driving all our property crimes,” Lynn said. Sweet Home Police Department focused strongly on drug investigations and search warrants in 2014.

“We’re going to continue to focus on what we believe is the driving force, which is the drug issue in our commuity,” Lynn said.

Additionally, Lynn said, people need to take responsibility for their own property.

“We no longer live in a society where you can leave things unlocked,” Lynn said. In most cases where property is stolen from a vehicle, the vehicle is unlocked.

Seldom do thieves break into a cary when it is locked, Lynn said. “For the most part, we just encourage people to make it more difficult.”

Elsewhere in Linn County, Albany had 42 violent crimes and 1675 property crimes, a total crime rate of 33.09 per 1,000 population, down from 39.9 per 1,000 in 2013.

Lebanon data were not available in the report. Lebanon had an overall crime rate of 46.2 per 1,000 population in 2013.

The national crime rate was 29.62 per 1,000 population, with the rate of violent crimes declining by 1 percent and property crime by 5 percent, with 1.17 million violent crimes and 8.28 million property crimes.

The crime rate for Oregon was 31.11 in 2014. The violent crime rate was 2.32, and the property crime rate was 28.79.

Around the state, Portland’s overall crime rate increased from 53.5 per 1,000 population to 57.07 per 1,000. Its violent crime rate fell slightly, from 4.8 per 1,000 to 4.7 per 1,000.

Salem had a crime rate of 46.1 per 1,000 population. Springfield had a rate of 48.3.

With populations between 7,500 and 10,500 around the state, Stayton had a crime rate of 55.9. Silverton was at 25.31; Prineville, 40.75. North Bend, 59.42. Newport, 63.44. Molalla, 27.78; Monmouth, 18; Lincoln City, 52.91; Independence, 23.75; Florence, 44.89; Eagle Point, 48.41; Cottage Grove, 59.77; Baker City, 37.39; and Astoria, 42.09.