After decreasing in 2011, crime levels have increased in 2012 in Las Vegas. Huge drops in 2011 in many categories did not continue into this year, and many inched up. However, looking back on the past five years the numbers are still an improvement.
The total number of violent crimes increased to 11,598, which marks a 7.25% increase over the previous year. It is hard to say whether the decrease of last year was abnormal or this year’s increase could indicate the direction that the crime level is heading in for the city. According to Patrick Baldwin, who serves as the director of the Las Vegas police department analytics, 2012 represents a trend in the wrong direction. However, he felt that the past five years are a better indicator than only one year, and that those numbers show a much more positive trend overall. Although it is impossible to ignore the data, over scrutinizing it is unnecessary and causes worry that may not be needed. Numbers for violent crime tend to trend over time rather than completely change year to year.
When the numbers for 2012 are compared with those from 2008, which is five years ago, the number of violent crimes committed is shown to have actually decreased by 11%.
The increases between crimes in 2011 and 2012 showed up in a variety of categories. Robberies and assaults both increased, by 9.5% and 7.8% respectively. There was also a marked increase in property crimes, with over 46,000 reported, marking a 12% increase. Increase were the largest by percent for thefts, which increased by 16%. Burglaries also increase in 12%.
The trends seen in Las Vegas go against the national trends, which have shown consistent decreases per 100,000 residents for years in both violent and property crimes. Between 2011 and 2012 the national violent crime rate for the US did not change in a statistically significant manner, and the property crime rate actually decreased by 1.6%.
The police department emphasized that fluctuations from year to year can be due to many different factors. For one, the population of Las Vegas has consistently been getting younger, which tends to correlate with more crimes. The improving economy could also be a factor as it leads to more opportunity to commit violent crimes as tourists visit the city.
One positive note from the report is that the numbers for both murder and rape continued with the downward trend seen in 2011. There were only 76 murders in 2012, down from 82 in 2011. There were also only 596 cases of rape reported, down from 651 the year before. The department believes that the numbers will be low for rape again this year based on current tracking. This decrease can be at least partially credited to new efforts on educating the public on the signs of rape. However, there is concern that the rate of murders will increase from last year.
On another positive note, auto thefts are continuing to decline. Once a huge problem for Las Vegas, the total number has been nearly cut in half since 2005.