Burglary and theft led Mercer Island crime in 2009

Mercer Island crime statistics for 2009 are now listed on the city’s Web site. In general, crimes have stayed steady and low over the past six years, with zero homicides and an average of three robberies.

The highest category of crime, according to Mercer Island Police Department statistics, is theft. In 2009, there were 323 reported thefts. This compares with 316, the previous year, and 456 in 2004.

Auto theft, which should not be confused with car prowls, saw 14 cases in 2009, down from 32 in 2008. In 2004, there were 67 reported cases of auto theft.

Burglary is another high category. Last year, 74 burglaries were reported on the Island, down from 79 in 2008. The record for the past six years was in 2004, with 103 burglaries.

As for assault, Mercer Island saw 49 cases of simple assault — confrontation without a weapon — last year, and seven cases of aggravated assault — confrontation with a weapon.

There were 50 DUIs reported in 2009, down from 57 in 2008, and two cases of rape.

Asked about Mercer Island’s crime statistics, Police Commander Leslie Burns said that the numbers often fluctuate but, on the whole, are much lower than other cities in King County.

“They are very random numbers that fluctuate greatly,” Burns said. “For example, car prowls and shoplifting are both considered theft. Often, we have a rash of car prowls where they might take a nickel from one car and a laptop from another. But these all get lumped into ‘theft.’”

Burns said that the MIPD is required to report its crime statistics every month to the state. MIPD heads look over the numbers for any trends.

According to the police commander, there have not been any significantly alarming jumps in crime over the past six years. She added that police presence has also remained more or less the same since 2004.

One of the few King County cities comparable to Mercer Island in the arena of crime is Bellevue, although the city’s size is nearly five times that of Mercer Island.

The fifth largest city in Washington, with 124,000 people, Bellevue experienced no homicides for the second year in a row in 2008.

The FBI’s 2008 property crime statistics showed that burglary incidents in Bellevue increased from 583 in 2007 to 687 in 2008. However, motor vehicle thefts continued to decrease, from 446 in 2007 to 275 in 2008. Statistics for 2009 were not available.

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