Crime in Scottsdale

Property crime in Scottsdale dropped last year from 2016 but violent crime increased slightly, according to the newly released annual FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.

Overall, violent crimes rose to 396 incidents in 2017 from 369 in the previous year – an increase of 7.3 percent.

Scottsdale’s property crime decreased significantly, from 5,698 in 2016 to 5,470 in 2017 – a 4 percent drop. Burglaries increased slightly by 110, while larceny and theft decreased by 335.

The property crime decline is consistent with a nationwide trend that has been noted by the FBI for the past 15 years.

But the FBI also noted a troubling 9.5 percent increase in violent crime in Arizona as a whole from 2016 to 2017.

The Arizona spike in violent crimes was apparent in Phoenix, where more than 1,800 additional violent crimes were reported and all four types of violence charted experienced increases.

The Arizona violent crime numbers, which included a 7.9 percent increase in the violent crime rate, conflicted with the UCR report’s major conclusion that violent crime nationally dropped by 0.2 percent in 2017, after two consecutive years of increases.

The FBI report dates back to its inception in 1930 and is considered the nation’s most reliable measurement of crime, with 16,655 police agencies participating.

At the same time, the FBI cautions that each community is inherently different and that simplistic comparisons of one city against another can be misleading and inaccurate.

Of the 396 violent crimes in Scottsdale last year, the FBI reported, there were five cases of murder or manslaughter, 103 rapes, 100 robberies and 188 aggravated assaults.

The bulk of property crimes involved larceny and theft – 4,346 – while there also were 878 burglaries and 246 car thefts, according to the FBI.

Scottsdale is part of the East Valley Fusion Center, where detectives through the region share crime trends and other data to identify serial criminals, such as burglary rings or armed robbery rings that plague the entire region rather than one particular city.

That may partially explain why the increase in violent crime in Scottsdale only slightly increased while property crimes were down.

“This is one reason we keep our crime low. We work with our partners,’’ said Dan Butler, the Mesa police’s executive commander, noting police use more up-to-date statistics to target crime on a daily basis.

 “We are vigilant about staying on top of all crime. In the end, we want to have a livable city. Every time there is a crime, there is someone who is a victim of crime,’’ Butler added.

Scottsdale this year was ranked the ninth safest city in Arizona by safewise.com, a national web site that based their evaluation on violent crime and property crime rates listed in the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report.

That was behind three other Maricopa County municipalities – Buckeye, ranked first; Gilbert, fourth; and Surprise, seventh.

Nationally, Safewise ranked Virginia Beach, Virginia, as the nation’s safest city and Detroit as the most dangerous. Phoenix was ranked 28th and Tucson was ranked 39th.

Safewise said Scottsdale recorded 1.53 violent crimes per 1,000 people and 23.65 property crimes per 1,000.

Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan said domestic violence remains a major factor contributing to many other crimes.

“Alarmingly, roughly 30 percent of aggravated assaults were domestic violence related,” he said. “As an area of concern, we are examining root causes leading to this increase and will continue our outreach, public awareness and enforcement efforts to help alter the trajectory.”

Gilbert’s crime statistics were almost identical in 2017 to 2016 in violent crime category, where the town’s already miniscule numbers increased marginally to 207 in 2017 from 200 in 2016.

Gilbert Police Chief Mike Soelberg said Gilbert’s own analysis of Uniform Crime Report data, for cities and towns with 100,000 people or more, indicates that Gilbert is the second safest city in the nation, behind only Irvine, California.

 He said one unfortunate trend police have noted so far in 2018 is an uptick in property crimes, with Gilbert noting a jump in thefts of items left in plain sight in unlocked cars.