Spokane’s property and violent crime rates rose last year compared with 2012, bucking national and statewide trends, according to crime data released Monday by the FBI.
A Spokane city resident had a 1 in 11 chance of becoming a victim of burglary, larceny or motor-vehicle theft in 2013. For the average Washingtonian, that number was 1 in 27; for an American, it was 1 in 37.
What the new FBI report does not reflect is what Spokane police and city officials have been saying for months: that crime rates are poised to show a sharp drop from 2013 to 2014.
For example, the police department’s latest weekly statistical report shows a 22 percent decrease in violent crime year to date. Those numbers are preliminary, and totals reported to the FBI after the year is over often are different because crimes may be reclassified after they’re investigated.
The FBI’s crime analysis for 2013 showed a 5 percent growth in violent crime.
Spokane’s violent crimes, at a rate of 687 crimes per 100,000 people, included murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. It was the highest violent crime rate in Spokane since 2001.
The rise in violent crime is largely due to changes in how the FBI defines rape, according to Spokane police Chief Frank Straub.
For the first time the 2013 report counted sodomy, sexual assault with an object and sexual assaults with male victims in the total numbers for rape. As a result, Spokane police recorded 166 rapes in 2013; in 2012, they recorded 81. Nationwide, the change in definition was likely responsible for a 42 percent increase in rapes.
Even with those changes, violent crime in Washington dropped about 1 percent last year, and about 4 percent nationwide.
Property crime in Spokane increased about 5 percent in 2013, giving the city its highest property crime rate in at least 29 years. But Straub said that increase represented progress over the 23 percent increase in property crime from 2011 to 2012.
“While we’re not happy about the 5 percent increase in 2013, it was a significant reduction in the trend,” he said.
Year to date, property crime citywide is down about 11 percent.
Spokane police have implemented a number of strategies to reduce crime rates, including a chronic offender program that tries to address root issues for repeat offenders and a precinct system allowing officers to collect better data at a neighborhood level.
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