Violent crimes rose in area last year
Violent crimes rose in 2006 in four of five Washington cities surveyed for an FBI public-safety report released Monday. However, property crimes....
Seattle Times staff reporter
Violent crimes rose in 2006 in four of five Washington cities surveyed for an FBI public-safety report released Monday.
However, property crimes — burglaries, thefts, auto thefts and arsons — dropped in the five cities in 2006 compared with 2005. The increase in violent crimes and decrease in property crimes reflected a nationwide trend, according to the FBI.
The FBI's Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, which compiles crime statistics nationwide, found that the number of violent crimes, which includes murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, grew by 1.3 percent nationwide in 2006 — the second consecutive increase since 1991. Meanwhile, the rate of property crimes decreased by 2.9 percent from 2005 to 2006.
Larry Carr, an FBI spokesman in Seattle, said that a two-year increase in violent crimes does not necessarily make a trend.
"You have to look at a much larger sample to make a determination as to whether there's a trend going one way or not. The 10-year sample might be a more valid indicator," he said, explaining that occasional spikes can happen and seem more alarming than they should be.
In Seattle, there were 4,152 reported violent crimes in 2006, compared with 4,109 in 2005. In that city, murders increased from 25 in 2005 to 30 last year.
But a notable number of the murders in Seattle last year were exceptional cases, said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson.
"The Capitol Hill murders and the Jewish Federation shooting were large events," Jamieson said. These could produce a statistical anomaly, increasing the rate when in reality murders are not more common in the general population.
In March 2006, Kyle Huff walked into a party and killed six people in the Capitol Hill neighborhood before killing himself. In July, six women were shot, one fatally, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Naveed Haq has been charged in connection with the shootings.
Violent crimes in Bellevue, Tacoma and Spokane were up last year. In Tacoma, the number of homicides climbed from 13 in 2005 to 21 last year.
In Bellevue, the increase in violent crimes was coupled with an increase in the number of forcible rapes, which climbed from 29 in 2005 to 42 in 2006.
Bellevue police spokesman Greg Grannis said the increase in rape may be due to more frequent reporting.
"The rate of stranger rape is extremely low. Almost all of them were known to the victim in some way," he added.
In Seattle, rapes dropped slightly — from 138 in 2005 to 129 last year — and the number of robberies grew by 3.7 percent.
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