ITHACA, N.Y. — The crime rates of almost every violent or property crime in Ithaca last year was down, aside from robbery, according to the latest data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
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There were eight fewer reported violent crimes in Ithaca in 2014 than in 2013, bringing the total to 42.
Violent crimes — defined by the state as a murder, forcible rape, robbery or aggravated assault — are as follows for the past five years:
Property crimes are also down across the board for burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft for the past five years:
The drop in crime, according to Ithaca Police
The drop in crime, according to Ithaca Police Chief John Barber, is due to a variety of factors, including increased officers on the streets. But increased officers have a two-pronged effect on the appearance of crime statistics.
“Crime is definitely down,” said Officer Jamie Williamson, a spokesman for the police department. But he agreed that increases and decreases in reported crime can be subjective to circumstances.
For instance, Barber said that the drop in burglaries from 2013 to 2014 is due simply to good police work. In March 2014, police arrested a man who Barber said was linked to dozens of burglaries in the city. He said the man’s arrest can clearly be linked to the drop in burglaries from 2013 and reflects the efforts of the department to reduce crime in an obvious way.
In a separate list of statistics released by the police department, however, some crimes have increased, such as driving while intoxicated (up to 99 reports from 70 in 2013) and traffic tickets (up to 4486 from 4309 in 2013).
Williamson said, “If more officers are out on the street, we will prevent more crime. And more than likely we will observe more crime so our crime stats will be up.”
Officers conducting traffic patrols are one example of the department being proactive in its police work, Barber said.
He said other crime increases are a result of how the city of Ithaca is changing, for better and worse.
For instance, he suggested that increases in reported shoplifting (up to 378 from 343 in 2013) can be attributed to bigger or corporate businesses moving into the city and focusing more heavily on security and surveillance cameras than smaller, local businesses.
“Other stores perhaps don’t have as robust of a security team and the shoplifting is occurring, but we’re not getting the numbers to show it. That’s just one example,” Barber said, of more reported crime resulting in higher statistics.
Reported shoplifting has increased in Ithaca almost every year since 2008, according to the data.
Other increases in crime, such as drug and narcotic violations (up to 109 from 86 in 2013) are also not completely representative of the crimes happening in Ithaca, police said.
The heroin epidemic of the past two years, for instance, can account not only for more drug busts, but for increases in other crimes, too.
Barber said the uptick in robberies (up to 24 from 17 in 2013) is directly related to the number of drug addicts in the city. He said, in his experience, people commit those crimes to feed their addictions.
And with an understaffed police department, the number of people arrested for drug crimes is clearly not as many as the number of criminals using and selling drugs.
“I think it would be very safe to say there are more than 109 drug offenses that occur in the city of Ithaca,” Williamson said. The number of people committing drug offenses, however, can sometimes be more than the department can address.
“With more officers, the services that we are able to provide will be exponentially….more wide reaching,” Williamson said.
The police department has hired six new officers this year and plans to hire more in the coming months.