County crime rate falls for 3rd straight year

Officers, investigators clear 85% of cases

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan. 20, 2008 - Crimes reported to Hopkins County Sheriff's Office fell to an eight-year low in 2007, the third straight year the crime rate dropped from the previous reporting period.

The Uniform Crime Reports data for all of 2007 indicated overall crime dropped 3 percent from 2006 to 2007, and has fallen 22 percent since 2004.

There were 322 crimes reported to county officers in 2007, surpassing the the previous record of 332 set in 2006. The decade high was 412, recorded in 2004.

There were also more crimes cleared by arrests and other means in 2007 than any other year this decade. The 275 cases cleared last year is close double the number solved in 2000, when only 150 of 359 crimes reported were solved. In total, 85 percent of the cases reported were cleared last year, according to data provided by the sheriff's office.

Two categories of property crimes fueled the decrease in the crime rate.

Burglaries reached an eight-year low , with only 77 cases reported. That's 27 fewer burglaries than in 2006, the next lowest year for burglaries. The record for burglaries during the same time span was 122 in 2002.

Also, 53 burglaries were cleared from the sheriff's office books last year.

Larceny, or theft, dropped to 116 in 2007, down six from the previous year. It's also a new 8-year low, one less than the previous record of 117 in 2000, and 29 fewer than the high of 145 in 2002. Officers cleared 82 percent of the larceny cases in 2007.

In the category of simple assaults - those other than aggravated assaults in which weapons were used or serious injury occurred - the 71 cases reported last year were one more than in 2006. The number of reports hardly added to any departmental backlog of cases, however - during the 12-month period, investigators and deputies also cleared 70 cases.

The eight-year low for simple assault cases was set at 50 in 2006, the high at 114 in 2003.

There were 36 aggravated assaults in 2007, eight more than the 28 recorded in 2006, but the number of cases cleared also rose. In fact, the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office ended the year with fewer aggravated assaults on the logs than when it started - a total 37 cases were cleared in 2007, meaning the equivalent of at least one crime from a previous year was solved. The eight-year high for aggravated assault cases was set at 66 in 2004, when 63 cases were solved. The low was 16 in 2005, with 14 cases cleared.

More motor vehicle thefts occurred in 2007 than in 2006, up three to 17, with 13 cases cleared. The record high for number of cases recorded was set at 18 in 2004, when 13 cases were cleared. As far as low, they don't get any lower than 2002, when there were no motor vehicle thefts reported.

Last year was also the first time in five years that no criminal homicides were reported. There were two homicides in 2004, and one each in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

There were also 10 fewer forcible rapes recorded in 2007 than one year before, when the eight-year high was set at 12. And while only two rapes were recorded in 2007, five were cleared from the books.

There was also one robbery reported - and cleared - in 2007, the same as in 2001, 2003 and 2005. There were no robberies recorded in 2006, 2004 or 2000. The eight-year high was set at three in 2002.

While four arsons were reported in 2007, only two were found to be actual incidences of arson. Both were cleared from the books last year.

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