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Crime rates climb; Bureau County does not follow the trend

PRINCETON — The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show violent crime and property crime rates have risen for the second consecutive year, though at least one local statistic does not reflect that same trend.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) study released last week, the violent crime rate in the United States in 2012 jumped more than 15 percent, from 22.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 26.1 victimizations in 2012. The figures include estimates for rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault.

In addition, the BJS study shows the property crime rate increased by more than 12 percent in 2012. In 2011, there were 138.7 property crimes per 1,000 households, compared to 155.8 property crimes in 2012. Property crime figures include estimates for burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft.

Unfortunately, not all crimes are reported to authorities, the BJS states. In 2012, about 44 percent of violent victimizations and 54 percent of serious violent victimizations were reported to police, with about 34 percent of property victimizations reported.

Locally, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said he doesn’t think there has been any significant changes in crime rates locally during the last year. Of course, any crime rate is higher than what it should be, the sheriff said.

According to records kept by the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department, Bureau County had 90 thefts in 2012 and 109 burglaries in the 2012 year. So far to date in 2013, Bureau County has had 63 thefts and 37 burglaries. Burglaries are when actual break-ins to buildings or vehicles occur.

Thompson said he’s somewhat surprised to see the decrease in the number of burglaries from 2012. Unfortunately, that number may increase in coming weeks as the Christmas holiday season approaches and people may resort to crime to get things they think they may need for themselves or their families, the sheriff said.

As he has said before, national crime trends tend to start in the cities and more populated areas, but those trends typically will reach the rural areas in time, Thompson said.

As far as what people can do to protect themselves and their properties, Thompson said he would like to see people become more proactive, locking their doors and not going to the door if they don’t know the person. Also, even posting a “No Trespassing” sign at the home or yard is a good thing to do. Having a dog in the house will notify anyone on the outside that there is a dog on the premises, which may also deter people, he said.

As reported earlier in the Bureau County Republican, the U.S. Justice Department, which manages the crime survey, has said one reason the recent crime rate increases seem so large is that crime has gone down during the last two decades, and current crime rates still remain at historically low levels.

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