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Crimes against people slightly up in Hall

Property crimes down 10 percent

POSTED: January 23, 2009 12:10 a.m.

For the third consecutive year, property crime was down in Hall County in 2008.

Crimes against persons saw a slight increase, though the per-capita violent crime rate remains below the levels seen locally in the mid-1990s.

Annual crime statistics compiled by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office are comparable to year-end numbers released by Gainesville Police two weeks ago. And like Gainesville police, sheriff’s officials don’t expect the downward trend to continue.

“We did see a decrease in our property crimes,” Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Col. Jeff Strickland said. “However, as the economy has worsened, we don’t know if we’ll be able to maintain this trend in the future.”

Overall, property crime saw nearly a 10 percent decrease from the previous year, with 32 fewer burglaries, 97 fewer thefts and 125 fewer motor-vehicle thefts.

Officials hope that high-visibility patrols, data analysis and special crime suppression units played a role in getting the numbers down. Property crime accounts for the vast majority of all crime in America. In Hall County, nearly nine out of every 10 crimes reported is a property crime.

Violent crimes like aggravated assaults, rapes and murder are not as easily controllable, Strickland said.
“We have a greater impact using law enforcement techniques for property crimes,” he said.

There were three murders in Hall County in 2008, compared with two the previous year. Hall County has a population of about 180,000.

In 1995, when the county’s population was 114,000, there were nine murders and roughly the same number of aggravated assaults as there were in 2008, about 200, meaning the per-capita violent crime rate was higher in 1995.

Property crimes have been on a steady decrease since 2005, when there were 3,439 reported. Last year there were almost 1,000 fewer thefts and burglaries reported than in 2005.

Strickland said county residents have done their part to lower the numbers, too.

Hall County and Gainesville have a number of neighborhood watch groups that are aware when crimes occur in their area.

“Preventive measures they take, whether its locking doors or not keeping keys in a car, can prevent crimes of opportunity from occurring,” Strickland said.

Strickland said some crimes were already on the rise in the latter part of 2008 as the recession set in.

“With the downturn in the economy, we have seen some increases, particularly in residential burglaries,” Strickland said.



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