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Islandcrime falls in 2006
Fewer crimes involving theft brought down the number of reported crimes for the Island in 2006.
The number of crimes in 2006 was released by the Mercer Island Police Department last week. Of the 551 reported crimes, the majority of the offense are still property-related and include: auto theft, burglary, fraud, robbery, and theft. Violent crimes: homicide, rape and assault, remain rare on Mercer Island. The number of crimes tabulated each year does not include traffic offenses, parking violations or vehicle accidents.
“ID theft is definitely still the highest percentage of crimes here,” MIPD Public Information Officer Leslie Burns said. “It continues to be a huge challenge for us because the offenders always seem to be one step ahead of law enforcement, finding new ways to do it as soon as police stop the other way.”
Property crimes as a whole decreased by 15 percent from 2005 to 2006. The 424 reported incidents fell just below the six year average of 483. Thefts make up the largest chunk of property crimes on Mercer Island and the police department experienced a significant drop this year. In 2006 police responded to 253 thefts, a 22 percent decrease from the 323 in 2005 and a 44 percent drop from the peak in 2004. The greatest number of property crimes continue to be mail theft and car prowls, Burns said. The decreases in 2005 and 2006 can be attributed to the increasing number of residents locking their mail boxes and cars as well as those now securing their valuables in their homes, Burns said.
Despite the general decrease in property crimes, the number of burglaries actually went up this year. In 2006, there were 7 more burglaries, a 9 percent increase from the 69 in 2005.
“The number of burglaries here is not higher than cities of similar population sizes,” Burns said. “There is nothing in particular the department is alarmed about.”
In addition to the drop in thefts, the city experienced the fewest amount of auto thefts since 2001. After a peak of 67 cars were stolen in 2004, the number of vehicles stolen on Mercer Island decreased to 37 in 2005 and then fell to 25 last year.
During the last six years Mercer Island has averaged 711 crimes annually. During that time period the city experienced a steady crime rate from 2001 to 2003 but there was a spike of crimes in 2004. Police say this high number of crimes to several separate theft rings that were stealing large amounts of mail on the Island and throughout King County. Burns said that a surge of car prowls in 2004 also contributed to the high number of crime that year.
Neighboring communities also experienced decreases in property crimes last year. Seattle had a 9 percent decrease in property crimes from 2005 but, unlikey Mercer Island, it encountered an increase in violent crime, even though it was just under 1 percent. Bellevue Police also reported a decrease in property crimes from 2005 to 2006.