City crime was down in 2013

April 3, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Newcastle crime was down in 2013, a welcome bit of news for a city that saw only increasing statistics in 2012.

In 2013, the city had 252 Part I crimes, compared to 323 in 2012. Part I crimes include criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Other than robbery, all of the other Part I crime categories dropped in 2013, Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine said in a March 4 presentation to the City Council.

There were six robberies in 2013, compared to two in 2012. Robbery is defined as taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person by force, threat of force, violence or by putting the victim in fear.

Two of the robberies were reportedly a result of the “Big Top Bandits,” a pair of men who were famously arrested in August in connection with a series of takeover-style bank robberies, Irvine said.

Burglaries, however, were significantly lower, Irvine said, going from 108 in 2012 to 65 in 2013. Burglary is the unlawful entry of a commercial or residential structure with the intent to commit a crime.

“We attribute that mostly because we are working very hard to identify and target specific individuals who are responsible for those crimes,” she said.

The 65 burglaries are the lowest the city’s seen since 2010, when there were just 44.

Larcenies were still Newcastle’s most common crime in 2013, but even those dropped from 184 to 158. Larceny includes various crimes, such as when items are taken from cars or buildings, and bicycle thefts.

Dispatched calls for police service were down to 1,545, compared to 1,789 in 2012. Area checks and calls for suspicious persons, activity or vehicles still remain some of the most prevalent calls the department receives, Irvine said.

“Citizens are still being aware and giving us information,” she said.

The number of Part I and Part II cases closed by arrest appeared to go down from 71 to 61 in 2013, but Irvine said with the crime down last year, the percentage of cases closed was actually almost identical to 2012.

After the presentation, Deputy Mayor John Drescher asked Irvine if she had noticed any marijuana-related crime after the voters elected to legalize the drug with the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012.

“Not specifically in the city,” she responded. “I have seen them in surrounding areas, in some of the crimes that occurred in King County.”

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