Violent crime in Ottawa rose slightly last year — reflecting a statewide trend, according to statistics.
Adam Weingartner, Ottawa’s assistant police chief, said in 2016 there were 14 more crimes categorized by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation as violent in Ottawa than in 2015. Forty-seven violent crimes were reported in 2016 and 33 in 2015, he said.
“A majority of that increase was not from murder, rape or robbery, but from aggravated assault/battery,” Weingartner said. “These crimes generally involve people who know each other and use something categorized as a weapon, such as a bat, knife, piece of wood, etc.”
Ottawa’s numbers mirrored the 2016 Kansas Crime Index Report released last week by the KBI, which showed violent crimes increased 4.2 percent in 2016, on top of a 11.2 percent increase in 2015.
“That being said, we work to achieve no increase or a reduction in any crime, especially violent crime,” Weingartner said.
Violent crimes are categorized by the KBI as murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults and batteries. The report compiles crime statistics reported to the KBI from local and state law enforcement agencies, which are submitted through the Kansas Incident Based Reporting System, according to a news release.
Weingartner said property crimes impact Ottawa’s crime rate more than violent crime.
“We saw last week again where several vehicles were left unlocked and had items stolen...five cars in one Cul-de-sac,” he said. “If the community would lock homes and vehicles every day the amount of property crime would be reduced significantly. Almost every theft from vehicles this year were from unlocked vehicles.”
So far in 2017, the rate of serious crimes have continued to rise with an increase of 62 percent in Ottawa for the first quarter of 2017, compared to the first quarter of 2016, according to Herald archives. Serious crimes — arson, aggravated assault, burglary, murder, rape, robbery, theft and auto theft — decreased 55 percent from 2004 to 2015, but 2016’s first quarter saw a significant increase, Weingartner said in a May interview.
He said people are making their property easy targets for thieves.
“Residents and business owners should conceal valuables in their vehicles and lock the doors,” Weingartner said. “Homeowners should lock their doors, turn on exterior lights at night and immediately report suspicious activity to police.”
Weingartner said overall for the past 13 years, crime in Ottawa has decreased.
“While there will be periodic decreases and increases in crime, the department works hard to address crime trends to reduce the impact on victims and hold offenders accountable,” he said.
Property crimes as a whole in the state were down seven percent in the past decade, according to the KBI report. The report indicated property crimes have decreased since 2007, but increased two percent in 2016. The report indicated the increase was because of the number of motor vehicle thefts.
The KBI report said criminologists believe the reason behind the spike of vehicle thefts is because it is a crime of opportunity with a higher monetary return and the lower probability of being arrested or charged.
MURDER RATES UP
The KBI report indicated there was a 12.1 percent jump in murders from 2015. In Kansas, there were 148 murders in 2016 compared to 132 in 2015 and 101 in 2014. The KBI reported the 2016 murder rate was the highest in the state since 2000, when 156 murders were reported. The highest murder rate recorded in history was in 1993 with 188.
When comparing statistics from the past decade, the report indicated 2016 overall crimes were below the 10-year average by 5.6 percent with 30.6 offenses per 1,000 people. The violent crime numbers showed a 5.9 percent increase from the 10-year average. Violent crime was at 3.7 offenses per 1,000 people.
Other state statistics released included: aggravated assaults/batteries, increased 6.8 percent; robberies, 3.8 percent decrease, and rapes nearly even, up by 21 from 2015.
The full 2016 Kansas Crime Index report can be found at: kansas.gov/kbi/stats/stats_crime2016.shtml