Simple assault, motor vehicle theft up from last year

By Angie Hilsman | Jul 31, 2017
Courtesy of: Town of Dartmouth

Motor vehicle theft and simple assault are on the rise this year, while shoplifting and larceny have decreased, according to a recent town report. But the Dartmouth Police chief said the reported stats alone are not all that dramatic.

The most recent DartStat report — a data aggregation program aimed at improving efficiency in town — compared crime rates between the first six months of 2016 and 2017. The results show that simple assault rose nine percent in that January-June time period, while motor vehicle theft has risen 27 percent, and larceny from a motor vehicle has risen 33 percent in the same time comparison.

Simple assault — defined as using force against another person without using a weapon nor inflicting serious bodily injury — increased from 102 reports to 111, which Acting Chief Brian Levesque could be a paperwork error.

Lumping simple and aggravated assault (using a weapon or inflicting serious bodily harm) together, the total count rose from 136 reports of assault to 142 reports, an increase of six reports, or four percent.

“I’m not going to even say it went up if it’s six incidents. Maybe six more people felt comfortable reporting,” Levesque said. He added that, for example, if three victims were lumped into one report for the same perpetrator, instead of making three individual reports, that would also explain such a small increase.

Motor vehicle theft has risen from 15 incidents to 19 incidents in the six-month comparison between this year and last. Levesque said that motor vehicle thefts are usually between two parties that know each other, and someone who had access to the key either didn’t return it when they were supposed to or took it without permission altogether.

Levesque said that car thefts are still relatively low. Ten to 15 years ago, 100 cars would be stolen from the Dartmouth Mall parking lot in a year, he estimated. He attributed the significant decrease to better security technology in vehicles.

Theft from a motor vehicle has risen from 18 reported incidents during the six-month period last year to 24 incidents this year.

Reported larceny (theft over $250 worth) and shoplifting (below $250) both decreased, but Levesque said that’s probably due to loss prevention cuts in the retail sector.

“I don’t think shoplifting is actually decreasing,” he said. He explained that shoplifting is detected by stores, and with a struggling retail industry, he assumes there are less employees checking for theft, which translates to fewer reports.

Levesque said that while crime usually heightens during the latter half of the year due to warmer temperatures and more social interactions, he is happy with the recent results.

“We’re doing a good job combatting crime in town,” he said.

Burglary/ breaking and entering, vandalism, drug and narcotics violations, and driving under the influence all decreased during the six-month comparison.

Reported intimidation remained stagnant, with 64 reports being filed during both years.

Incidents of fraud rose from 43 reports in 2016 to 44 reports in 2017, and all other offenses — which includes criminal offenses such as operating without a license or driving an uninsured vehicle — rose from 1072 incidents to 1089 incidents.

“Our citations for the year are up. We’re being more proactive with motor vehicle offenses,” said Levesque. “Sometimes, an increase is a good thing because we’re detecting more, not necessarily that there’s more going on.”

The overall crimes reported also rose 1.58 percent, with 1072 reports being filed last year, and 1089 filed this year.

The DartStat report was presented at the July 31 Select Board meeting. The data is collected and arranged into easy-to-digest charts and graphs that can be used by town officials to spot trends.

(Courtesy of: Town of Dartmouth)
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