Crime stats: Park City fraud cases spiked early in pandemic, then dropped sharply
Police Department report highlights another of the impacts of the coronavirus
The number of fraud cases reported to the Park City Police Department spiked in 2020 amid the pandemic-related shutdowns and has since dropped dramatically, data released by the agency shows.
According to the police, the department received 51 fraud reports in 2022 and 50 such reports in 2021. The numbers in the two years fell sharply from the 105 reported in 2020, the year the pandemic took hold. The 105 reports in 2020 were more than the combined cases in 2021 and 2022. The case numbers in 2021 and 2022 were also down significantly from the two years prior to the pandemic, when the figures were in the 70s.
The police recently posted the year-end report covering 2022, providing data about reports of major crimes. There is typically a lag of at least several months after the end of a year before the report is available. The department also recently posted the 2021 report.
The reports do not provide details about the sorts of fraud cases that are filed. The Police Department partly attributed the spike in cases in 2020 to the pandemic, when people were spending lots of time at home during the early months of the spread of the coronavirus. Many of the fraud cases that year involved online, email and phone scams, the Police Department said.
The spike and then subsequent drop in fraud cases is one of the notable points in the year-end report for 2022, highlighting another of the impacts of the pandemic in a community that was the location of one of the first concentrations of coronavirus cases in the state. The initial shutdowns in March of 2020 occurred during a key stretch of the winter and forced an abrupt end to the ski season as the resorts closed, temporarily sending the unemployment rate in Summit County past 20%.
Much of the community interest in police-related matters in the early months of the pandemic seemed to be focused on law enforcement’s role in enforcing social distancing and mask mandates rather than cases of suspected fraud. Cases centered on public health-related issues were generally far more visible than the ones involving claims of fraud, drawing attention from people on the various sides of the issues.
The year-end report provides an annual review of crime data and other details about the department. There were 572 crimes classified as major reported to the police in 2022, up slightly from the 532 the year before. The numbers were lower than the three previous years, when the tally hit a high of 701 in 2020.
Some of the key categories of major crimes include:
• 6 rapes, the highest since at least 2018
• 2 robberies, in the annual range since 2018
• 19 burglaries, in the annual range since 2018
• 184 thefts, in the annual range since 2018
• 44 vehicle burglaries, a drop over the course of several years
• 5 vehicle thefts, the lowest since at least 2018
• 123 assaults, in the annual range since 2018
• 69 cases of criminal mischief, in the annual range since 2018
• 69 cases of abuse involving a family member, the lowest since at least 2018
The numbers are based on arrests and reports of crimes as described by a victim rather than a final determination after a police investigation.
The police said the rape cases tallied in the report typically stemmed from claims involving people who knew each other beforehand, met just beforehand or involved the possibility of the use of a date-rape drug.
The report shows property losses in 2022 valued at $556,973 and assigns a $199,239 value to the property recovered that year. The 2022 and 2021 loss numbers trended higher than the previous three years.
The number of calls for service, meanwhile, dropped to the lowest since at least 2018. The 19,900 recorded in 2022 represented the first time the figure fell below 20,000 since at least 2018.
The Police Department in 2022 arrested 284 people, in the annual range since 2018. White people, by a wide margin, accounted for the most arrests, trailed by Hispanics.
“Park City is one of the safest places I would ever want to . . . visit and live,” Jay Randall, a police lieutenant who oversees community outreach, said in summarizing the numbers.
He praised the agency’s efforts to increase engagement between the police and the public. Randall described that sort of relationship as helping with crime fighting since reports are filed earlier. The police are then able to quickly address a report, he described.
The release of the annual report from the Police Department followed survey results that showed Parkites broadly see Park City as a safe place. The National Community Survey, administered on behalf of City Hall and covering a wide range of Park City issues, in late 2022 and early 2023 found Park City residents overwhelmingly see themselves as safe from property crime and violent crime. It also found 99% rated their safety as excellent or good in the Main Street core during the daytime. Ninety-nine percent also rated the safety of their neighborhoods in the daytime hours as excellent or good.
Park City Council contest draws nine, some with established names and others with political newcomer status
The period when candidates needed to file campaign paperwork closed on Wednesday. There was not a rush of interest in the final hours, but the field is an intriguing one nonetheless.
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