Crime rate increase doesn’t tell the whole story
May 17, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
Overall, the crime rate in Washington is indicating a downward trend when comparing 2010 numbers with 2011. Snoqualmie is following that trend, but the numbers show North Bend with a slight increase.
The just released 32nd annual Crime in Washington 2011 statistics show a 5 percent decrease from 2010 in violent crimes statewide, a 3.3 percent decrease in property crime offenses and a 3.6 percent decrease in domestic assault crimes.
Since 2010, the crime rate is up 2.8 percent per 1,000 people from last year in North Bend, compared to Snoqualmie, which is showing a 32.2 percent decrease.
North Bend experienced an 87 percent increase in violent crimes, but North Bend Police Chief Mark Toner said the numbers needed some context.
There were 2.3 incidents in 2010, compared to 4.3 incidents last year.
“Now, if we had 100 incidents in 2010 and we experienced an 87 percent increase, then that number might mean a lot more,” Toner said. “But taken into perspective, only having a couple more incidents from the previous year isn’t indicating a significant increase in violent crime.”
The violent crime rate looks at incidents of murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
In North Bend, no one was murdered in 2010 or 2011; there were two robberies in 2010 and one incident last year; eight cases of aggravated assaults in 2010 compared to 17 in 2011; and there were three forcible rapes in 2010, compared to seven last year.
Toner said that if North Bend had actually had seven forcible rapes, “then seven would be a big number for our area.”
But he said North Bend didn’t have any stranger rape cases.
Toner said there were two arrested and charged with rape or sexual assault in North Bend last year.
The other instances involved women who live in North Bend, but the reported rapes happened elsewhere, he said.
There was one incident where a woman reported a rape that happened by a family member “a long time ago,” but that woman stopped communicating with police, so the investigation ended, he said.
The two other reports were unfounded, Toner said.
In Snoqualmie, the violent crime rate decreased 35.7 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Snoqualmie also had no murders during the study period; zero forcible rapes were reported in 2010, but one was reported in 2011; 2010 saw two robberies, but zero were reported last year; and while there were five aggravated assaults reported in 2010, four occurred last year.
Property crimes decreased overall in North Bend. There were seven fewer burglaries in 2011 compared to 2010 and six fewer vehicle thefts.
There were, however, seven reports of arson in 2011, compared to three in 2010, and 11 more reports of larceny in 2011 compared to 2010.
In Snoqualmie, property crime decreased 32 percent.
The report shows instances of arson went from two cases in 2010 to one in 2011, and larceny dropped significantly, from 173 cases in 2010 to 112 last year.
However, burglary and vehicle theft increased. There were 10 burglary reports in 2010, compared to 19 last year; and seven vehicles were stolen in 2010, compared to 13 last year.
Snoqualmie Police Capt. Steve McCulley agrees with Toner that the statistics can be somewhat misleading.
Seeing that Snoqualmie experienced a 90 percent increase of burglaries in 2011 from 2010 sounds like a significant increase, “but in reality, it was only nine more in a year,” he said.
But he did say Snoqualmie saw a “rash of vehicle break-ins last year.”
“Word was getting out to the criminal world that it was easy pickings in Snoqualmie,” McCulley said. “But then we did an education campaign with the public, that they needed to lock their car doors and bring their valuables into the house. And now we don’t have as many as we were seeing before.
“We really are lucky because North Bend and Snoqualmie are inherently safe places to live,” he said. “But we do need to take some precautions, like locking our doors.”
On the Web
Read the entire Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs report at www.waspc.org, under the “Crime Statistics” tab.