As economy booms, Park City crime numbers go bust
May 8, 2015
As the economy boomed, Park City’s crime numbers went bust.
The number of crime reports in Park City that were classified as major dropped last year to its lowest figure since at least the middle of the 1990s, the Park City Police Department said in its annual tally.
The Police Department’s report for 2014 shows a sharp decline in the number of major crimes reported. The number fell to 732 from 867 in 2013, a drop of nearly 16 percent. The 732 reports were the fewest since at least 1996. It was the first time since 1996 that the number fell to fewer than 800.
Major crimes include offenses like rape, robbery, burglary, assault, fraud, vehicle burglary and criminal mischief. Park City traditionally suffers few violent crimes. There were no homicides and no robberies reported. Three rapes were reported. The numbers are drawn from initial reports and sometimes investigations find no crime occurred, a victim did not want to pursue a case or filed charges are different than those that were reported initially.
Wade Carpenter, the police chief, said the drop in reports of major crimes is likely a result of Park City’s strong economy. When the economy is good, Carpenter said, fewer crimes are typically reported. People also tend to drink more alcohol during poor economic times, leading to crime, he said.
Carpenter said there is a correlation between unemployment rates and crime, saying robberies, burglaries, thefts and vehicle break-ins occur more frequently when jobless numbers are high. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Summit County has dropped dramatically since the depths of the recession, averaging 3.4 percent in 2014, according to the state Department of Workforce Services.
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"When the economy is good, there is less stress in the home . . . There is less arguing, less drinking, less fighting," the police chief said.
Some of the details from the crime report include:
The drop in criminal mischief reports — normally graffiti or another act of vandalism — is likely a result of the Police Department’s crime-fighting operations, Carpenter said. The department breaks Park City into four patrol sectors and officers are responsible for individual sectors. Officers are regularly provided crime data and then saturate certain areas within the sectors based on the numbers, he said. It is "intelligence-based policing," Carpenter said.
"They’re taking accountability for their given sectors," he said.
The number of fraud reports, though, climbed to 66 in 2014, up from the 54 the year before and the highest since the 67 reported in 2010. Carpenter said the fraud reports typically involved online rentals or income-tax scams in which someone claiming they were from the IRS called victims saying they owed money. Carpenter said senior citizens are especially targeted in the income-tax scams.
The crime report also provides detailed numbers about the Police Department’s traffic patrols. The police in 2014 conducted 6,525 traffic stops, an average of nearly 18 per day. The number was the lowest during the five-year period ending in 2014. The Police Department wrote 877 traffic tickets in 2014 and made 113 arrests on drunken driving charges. It was the first year the numbers were included in the report.
The Police Department numbers, meanwhile, showed $630,827 in property was reported lost as a result of a crime in 2014. The report indicates $346,870 worth of property was recovered, a rate of just less than 55 percent. The dollar values attached to the property lost and the property recovered were each the highest during the five-year period dating to 2010. It was the only year during that period that the value of the recovered property was at least 50 percent of the value of the lost property.
The department in 2014 arrested 788 people, mostly men. White people accounted for nearly 86 percent of the arrests while Hispanics represented upward of 11 percent of those arrested.