Major crime across Colorado drops 6.1 percent |

Major crime across Colorado drops 6.1 percent

Associated Press Writer
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado – Major crimes reported across Colorado dropped 6.1 percent from 2007 to 2008, with reported auto thefts dropping 22.1 percent.

The year-over-year drop in crime represents the third straight annual decline in crime across the state, according to statistics released this week by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Major crimes counted by the report include homicides, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.

All categories declined statewide except rape, which increased 3.9 percent to 2,026 from 2007 to 2008. The rate has fluctuated slightly each year since 2005.

At least one criminologist cautioned that crimes with an economic motive such as burglary, theft, robbery and auto theft, could increase with a deepening recession.

“The recession really went into overdrive in the fall of 2008. As the recession deepens in some places, one would expect some upward pressure in crime rates,” said Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri St. Louis.

Crime rates in most of Colorado’s major cities dropped, with Denver’s crime rate decreasing 11.5 percent.

Part of that drop in Colorado’s largest city can be attributed to police collecting DNA during the investigations of all crimes, including burglaries and auto thefts. Trace DNA evidence is collected from a crime scene, then checked against state and federal databases.

“Before DNA, a lot of the property crimes went unsolved because we didn’t have the resources to investigate further, and these repeat offenders would just continue to keep burglarizing and committing crimes,” said Sharon Avendano, a Denver police spokeswoman. “Now, we’re able to identify them quickly and get them off the streets.”

Fort Collins, home to Colorado State University and Money Magazine’s 2006 best place to live, saw its overall crime rate increase nearly 5 percent from 2007 to 2008. Overall offenses jumped from 6,087 to 6,385 during the time.

“We’re always concerned when we see a rise in crime,” Fort Collins police spokeswoman Rita Davis said. “But if you look at a percentage increase, it may look larger than the actual number.”

Meanwhile, the drop in auto thefts in Colorado is part of a nationwide trend, Rosenfeld said, perhaps reflecting the difficulty of stealing newer cars.

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