FBI report shows Columbia crime on the rise, despite national drop

Report shows MU violent crime falls, Columbia on the rise.
Amy Oslica / Graphic Designer

The verdict is in: Crime in the United States is down. But as even as the national average is falling, crime in Columbia continues to climb.

Statistics from the FBI's 2007 Crime in the United States report showed a nationwide decrease in violent crime by about 0.7 percent, with drops in all specific violent offenses, from aggravated assault to murder. This reversed a rise that began in 2005. The number of property crimes fell for the fifth straight year, down about 1.4 percent from last year, according to an FBI news release.

The report breaks down crimes across the country by type, offense and characteristics. It also offers data about arrestees and the number of sworn and civilian officers serving nationally. All of these reports are then broken down by state, city, county and university, including MU.

Numbers for MU showed that even as the student population increased slightly and the number of enforcement personnel remained the same, violent crime was down slightly from 2006. Property crimes were up by about 2 percent, propelled by a small increase in thefts, the most common crime on campus for both years. MU Police Capt. Brian Weimer said though crime on campus is essentially flat across the board, the department is still trying to bring numbers down.

"We're always looking to serve our community," Weimer said. "We're always working to reduce larceny through programs like the bicycle registration program and the laptop registration program and if possible, to get the community involved."

The report for Columbia came in contrary to national trends. Both property and violent crimes increased locally, with the latter category up by more than 33 percent. That pattern was largely driven by increases in both robberies and assaults. The report did note a slight decrease in automobile thefts, which were down about 3 percent.

In response to increases in burglaries late last year, the department published burglary prevention tips to encourage citizens to take precautions around their home and form neighborhood groups to track suspicious activity.

The department also launched a bait car program, which combats auto thefts. The department has various cars set around the city meant to attract would-be thieves.

These cars are equipped with video and audio recording and a device that tracks their location. This makes it possible for dispatchers to coordinate a stop of the vehicle and quickly arrest the suspect.

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