Crime stats: Violence up, property crime down

September 22, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

The number of violent crimes reported in Issaquah reached a four-year high in 2008, but the number of property crimes recorded last year fell to the lowest level during the same period.

FBI crime figures released last week show 17 violent crimes and 814 property crimes reported in Issaquah last year. The number of violent crimes spiked from nine reported in 2007, while property crimes dipped from 864 during the previous year. The local figures were compiled from crimes reported last year to the Issaquah Police Department.

Patrol Cmdr. Scott Behrbaum said the data could be affected because not all crimes are reported to police. He said trends showed Issaquah has a small amount of crime.

Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crime includes burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Behrbaum said information sharing between other King County and regional law enforcement agencies has helped officers prevent crime and solve cases faster. He cited the example of a man who robbed the Emerald City Tanning Center and Lovers’ adult novelty store in July. Everett Police arrested the suspect after he had hit several businesses in King and Snohomish counties.

“I would say, 10, 15 years ago, it would have taken a lot more for us to get that information out,” Behrbaum said.

Issaquah Police recorded a murder, a rape, six robberies and nine aggravated assaults in 2008, according to the annual Crime in the United States report released by the FBI.

Statistics from the bureau showed no murders in Issaquah from 2005 to 2007. Issaquah Police recorded two cases of forcible rape in 2005, though none in the next two years. Other violent crimes recorded from 2005 to 2007 were limited to aggravated assaults and robberies.

The lone 2008 murder occurred when a 19-year-old woman stabbed her 21-year-old boyfriend. Police said she stabbed the man at an apartment in the 600 block of Front Street South. She then dropped him off at the Swedish Medical Center Issaquah emergency room, where he later died from the wound.

Behrbaum said although authorities determined the woman had acted in self-defense, the incident was recorded as a murder or non-negligent manslaughter. The incident was the first murder in Issaquah since 2003.

Theft was the most common property crime reported last year; Issaquah Police recorded 638 incidents. During the same period, Issaquah officers recorded 103 burglaries, 73 auto thefts and three arson cases.

But Behrbaum said the data released by the crime bureau could be incomplete.

“These crime statistics only document what has been reported,” he said.

Issaquah Police recorded more property crimes in 2007: 686 theft incidents, 101 auto thefts and 77 burglaries. Among the nine violent crimes recorded during the same period were five robberies and four aggravated assaults.

Mayor Ava Frisinger said officers used the FBI data to determine how to reduce certain types of crime. She said a focus on community-oriented policing meant officers often respond to minor crimes and incidents, such as lockouts.

Frisinger learned from experience: She was a victim of crime in 2008, when her car was broken into while she presided over a City Council meeting.

Frisinger said nothing was stolen in the car prowl, though officers said someone had broken into the car and turned on the heater. She credited officers for a fast response to the incident.

“We’re really, really attentive to people,” Frisinger said.

Crime in Issaquah, 2008

Violent crime:

Murder, 1

Forcible rape, 1

Robbery, 6

Aggravated assault, 9

Property crime:

Burglary, 103

Larceny, 638

Auto theft, 73

Arson, 3

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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