Sweet Home crime rates drop from ’07

Sweet Home’s crime rate decreased nearly 10 points from 2007 to 40.59 in 2008, based on FBI Uniform Crime Reports released last week.

The rates are based on four violent crimes, including murder and manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, and four property crimes, including burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. The reports do not include crimes such as criminal mischief and criminal trespass.

The FBI warns that the rankings are “rough” and lack insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region.

Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction, the FBI says in the report, cautioning users against comparing statistical data from individual jurisdictions.

Sweet Home had a rate of 40.59 crimes per 1,000 population with seven violent crimes, two robberies and five aggravated assaults, and 353 property crimes, including 89 burglaries, 257 thefts and seven motor vehicle thefts. The report listed Sweet Home with a population of 8,869.

Albany had the lowest rate among the three cities with police departments in Linn County, slightly ahead of Sweet Home, at 38.86 crimes per 1,000 population, including 65 violent crimes and 1,803 property crimes, while Lebanon had 55.15 per 1,000 population, with 24 violent crimes and 807 property crimes.

Rates reported for various communities around the state include 50.34 in Salem; Florence 36.13; Lincoln City, 57.99, Portland, 59.11; Silverton, 18.28; Sandy, 29.8; North Bend, 28.7; Monmouth, 24.93; Eugene, 68.64; Corvallis, 27.29; and Beaverton, 24.64.

The national rate is 36.67 per 1,000. The state rate is 35.39, with 9,747 violent crimes and 124,397 property crimes and a population of 3,790,060.

After a spike of more than 100 per 1,000 population in 2005, the rate has trended downward in Sweet Home since then to 50 per 1,000 in 2007, a couple of points behind Albany.

Before the spike in the crime rate, Sweet Home had the lowest crime rate in the county.

“In 2004, we saw the handwriting on the wall,” said Police Chief Bob Burford. “Crime was rising across the county, growing faster in Sweet Home than other cities.”

That was the year the city attempted to cut staff, Burford said.

The crime rate started crawling upward, he said. Those positions were refilled, and the rate has been going down.

“It’s certainly an improvement on 103 per thousand, which was 2005,” Burford said. “We’re going to keep working on it.”