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Crime reports down for 2002

Ryan Carter

Police are touting a decrease in crime last year paralleled by

reductions in theft and violent crime.

The total number of what police call Part 1 offenses -- murder,

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rape, robbery, assault, burglary and theft -- decreased by 5% from

the year before, according to police data. Last year, 3,216 Part 1

crimes were reported, compared to 3,377 the previous year.

Police were surprised at the numbers because crime tends to fester

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when the economy slumps, they said. But they also cited factors that

might have contributed to the decrease.

“It shows that it’s just the right combination of things coming

together,” Deputy Chief Larry Koch said. “And policing has something

to do with it in terms of directing our efforts in certain areas.”

Thefts, for example, were down 8% from 2,013 to 1,851, which Koch

said was unexpected, given the opening of the new Empire Center and

its potential for attracting customers and crooks. But more vigilant

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security, prevention and increased membership in neighborhood-watch

programs might have helped push the numbers down, Sgt. John Dilibert

said.

Koch also said plain old-fashioned police visibility might have

prevented some crimes, including theft.

One area police said crime analysis helped was in the arrest of

two suspects in November for a rash of car burglaries in the 200 and

300 blocks of Screenland Drive.

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“These auto burglars, they had been responsible for double-digit

numbers of crime. You clear those and you prevent other cases,” Koch

said.

Violent crimes -- murder, rape, robbery and assaults -- were down

17% in 2002. Only one alleged murder, in which a woman was hit by a

truck and killed as she stood outside a radio station , occurred in

2002. In 2001, three murders were reported.


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