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Crime rate up slightly in Gig Harbor, mostly due to car prowls

Washington state crimes by the numbers

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs 2017 Crime in Washington Annual Report details crimes against persons, property and society statistics from agencies that serve about 92% of the state.
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The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs 2017 Crime in Washington Annual Report details crimes against persons, property and society statistics from agencies that serve about 92% of the state.

The crime rate in Gig Harbor rose 3.5 percent in 2018, according to the police department’s annual crime statistics report. The good news? No homicides.

Most the 947 serious crimes reported to Gig Harbor police were thefts from cars or shoplifting. There were no murders, manslaughter or kidnapping cases. The city reported 915 crimes in 2017.

In nearby cities, for comparison, Lakewood reported 6,833 serious crimes, including 9 murders, and University Place had 1,486 serious crimes, including 3 homicides. Port Orchard reported 1,410 crimes and no homicides.

However, the crime rate per capita in Gig Harbor is higher than the state average — 91.8 times per thousand people, compared to the state average of 69.5.

Gig Harbor Police Chief Kelly Busey said this number is misleading, however, as people comie into the city every day for work or retail. “This is the employment and retail hub of this part of the county,” Busey said. “Everybody from Key Peninsula to Fox Island comes to Gig Harbor to do their shopping and work.”

The influx means Gig Harbor is serving a much larger day time population than actually live in the city, he said.

The annual report divides crimes into two categories: Group A offenses are the higher profile crimes — things such as kidnapping, assault and others. Group B offenses are the lower profile crimes such as public intoxication, fraud and bad checks.

Crimes against property remained the highest category — 79.8 percent of all group A offenses. Larceny is the main form of this crime, reported 460 times in 2018. Busey said vehicle prowls and retail theft are the two most common forms of larceny.

He said criminals seek out vehicles with items in visible site with their car doors unlocked. “This information is coming straight from the bad guys,” he said. Busey urges citizens to always lock their car doors.

Among the Type A crimes reported were two rapes, 14 aggravated assaults, 63 simple assaults and 53 drug arrests. The most numerous among Type B offenses were 88 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The statistics are included in an annual report most police agencies submit to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Busey said these statistics inform the community of how effective the police department is, something all citizens would like to know.

The report also showed that within the past eight years, Washington state ranks 51st out of 51 states (when Washingon, DC is included) in the number of sworn law enforcement officers per 1,000 people. “Our saturation of law enforcement is the worst in the country,” Busey said.

The comparisons between cities is not always black and white, however, the chief added.

“It is hard to compare places like Gig Harbor to a small Eastern Washington city, but you just get a feel for what is going on,” he said. Busey said this year there were no significant spikes in the data that would cause a change in how the Gig Harbor law enforcement works day to day

Small thefts remains the city’s main problem, with DUIs also being a reoccurring issue for Gig Harbor, he said.

For the full report visit https://waspc.memberclicks.net/assets/CJIS/Crime%20In%20Washington%202018-small.pdf. Go to page 375.

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