The total crime rate for 2019 is expected to increase 8.7% from 2018, according to a Riley County Police Department report.
RCPD Director Dennis Butler presented a monthly crime update at Monday’s Riley County Law Enforcement Agency Board — or law board — meeting at the Ogden Community Center.
If the crime rate continues on its current trajectory, the 8.7% increase would translate to about 1,612 reported Part I crimes, which include robbery, theft, rape, murder, aggravated assault and other offenses.
The report says the majority of the increase comes from a spike in aggravated assaults this year, as well as an “unprecedented” spike in larceny in January and a general rising trend in motor vehicle thefts since 2014.
Butler said it is important to look at crime rates over the long term. Comparing June 2019’s 112 incidents to the five-year average for that month, total Part I crime is actually down 7.9%, but the year-to-date crime is 10.4% higher than the average.
Butler said 2014 slightly skews the five-year trend average as it was an “unusually low year for crime” with 1,273 reported incidents.
“The one trend that we have noticed that is definitely higher, whether you include 2014 or not, is in the crime of aggravated assault,” Butler said.
Aggravated assault is putting someone in immediate bodily harm using a weapon or while disguised.
Internal research shows that 75% of reported aggravated assaults occur between people who know each other. The incidents also include domestic violence situations.
In June, there were eight aggravated assaults and six aggravated batteries, a 6.7% decrease from June 2018 but a 34.6% increase from the June five-year average. With the exception of two incidents, all the incidents were committed by a person the victim knew.
Butler said police try to mitigate those situations by educating people about their resources.
“(We educate) people about if you’re in a domestic violence relationship and resources you can access to try to stop the violence or escape the violence,” Butler said. “Those sometime help, but as far a predictor, how do we prevent it from happening — other than education when three quarters of the victims and assailants know each other — is very challenging. I don’t have an answer for you specifically.”
According to the report, there were five robberies in June —four from a person and one from a business.
One incident was cleared with an arrest and one was dropped.
Property crime was also down 15.4% from June 2018 with 88 incidents and down 17.3% from the five-year average. A majority of those crimes were larcenies but also included 10 structural burglaries, 14 larcenies from motor vehicles and eight auto thefts. In five of the auto thefts, the keys were inside the vehicle when it was taken.
Butler advised citizens to always lock their cars, take their keys with them and hide valuables out-of-sight.
“People who are interested in stealing cars will just walk down the street trying car doors,” he said. “If they find one unlocked, they’ll go in and steal what they can. If they find keys, a lot of times they’ll take the car and go somewhere.”