Violent crimes fall, property crimes rise in Vancouver

FBI reports that offenses such as murder, rape, robbery, assault are down 8.3 percent

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

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Reported violent crimes in Vancouver decreased in the first half of 2011, compared with the same period of time in 2010, according to preliminary figures released by the FBI this week.

The decrease in Vancouver reflected the national trend: a 6.4 percent decrease in violent crimes, which include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, the FBI reported. In Vancouver, those crimes were down by 8.3 percent from the 336 reported in 2010.

Violent crimes have been declining nationwide for four consecutive years. But for the two previous years, Vancouver’s numbers increased.

The decrease in violent crime during the recession has some criminal analysts rethinking the theory that crime goes up when the economy turns south.

“Traditional criminology would have taught you that when the economy goes

bad, crime goes up,” said John Laws, a crime analyst with the Vancouver Police Department. “We’ve had this past few years of economic downturn and crime has gone down.”

Vancouver bucked the national trend when it comes to property crimes, including burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft. Those crimes decreased 3.7 percent nationwide but increased 7.5 percent in Vancouver, jumping from 3,155 in the first half of 2010 to 3,392 in the first half of 2011. Burglary, in particular, jumped 12.1 percent, from 438 in the first part of 2010 to 491 in the first part of 2011.

There were nine homicides reported in the first half of 2011. Five of those were from the Easter morning blaze set by Tuan Dao, in which he and five of his children died. Two other homicides were domestic-violence related, Laws said. There were no murders in Vancouver in the first half of 2010.

Also down this year were forcible rapes (63 in 2010 and 47 in 2011), aggravated assault (191 in 2010 and 171 in 2011), motor vehicle theft (405 in 2010 and 394 in 2011) and arson (25 in 2010 and 14 in 2011). Again, those figures are for the first half of each year.

Preliminary data was submitted voluntarily by more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies around the country. It did not include data from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office or any other local police departments.