By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The recently released report on crime in Washington state suggests that while crime is down a bit statewide, it grew by more than 18 percent across Lewis County last year.
The biggest jump locally was murder, with six occurring in Lewis County during 2010, compared with only two the year before.
The Lewis County city with the highest crime rate, when numbers are adjusted for population, is Chehalis.
Last year in Chehalis, there were 103.3 “part one” offenses -serious crimes against people and property – reported for each 1,000 Chehalis residents, according to the report published last month by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.
The report’s crime index looks at certain offenses, not all, which are selected because they are indicators of the total amount of criminal activity.
Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer said 2010 was definitely a “crazy year” with almost double the number of arrests over 2009.
However, viewing the numbers per capita can be somewhat misleading, Schaffer said.
“We have I-5, we have the whole Twin City Town center, so you have an influx of people who travel through here or come to work here,” Schaffer said.
His officers go to Wal-Mart more than 600 times each year for shoplifters, he said.
Schaffer holds to the idea there’s no easy way to explain why the trends of crime rise and fall.
When the economy started to decline in 2009, he expected the city’s crime rate would sky rocket, but it didn’t, he said.
“We got into 2010 and that’s when we saw the spike,” he said.
Centralia came in second, with a crime rate Police Chief Bob Berg called disturbing when he released preliminary numbers in February.
Also according to the report: Most listed crimes increased from 2009 in Lewis County, including burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault and robbery. Only arson and rape were down.
The most common crimes locally and statewide are larceny (theft) and burglary.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported 256 burglaries last year, down slightly from 2009.
Centralia saw 212 burglaries and Chehalis saw 97, both up by almost half from the year before.
Morton showed a decrease of the listed crimes of 35 percent from 2009.
Not all cities and towns passed their numbers along to WASPC last year, among those were Pe Ell and Vader.
Other data included in the Crime in Washington 2010 Annual Report include the number of employees by agency, assaults on officers, crime clearance rates and more.
According to the numbers provided, the Chehalis Police Department cleared 333 of their part one crimes last year, which translates to almost 45 percent of those crimes.
The Centralia Police Department cleared 237 of their part one crimes last year, which is about 19 percent of them.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office cleared 142 part one crimes, or about 18 percent of them.
“Part one” crimes per 1,000 population last year, by agency
Chehalis: 103.3, up 27.3%
Centralia: 78.4, up 41.2%
Morton: 39.1, down 35.3%
Toledo: 28.8, up 100%
Napavine: 28.6, (no 2009 numbers to compare)
Winlock: 26.3, no change
Mossyrock: 25.9, no change
Lewis County Sheriff’s Office: 17.0, down 1.2%
Pe Ell: no report
Vader: no report
Lewis County total: 38.8, up 18.5%
Thurston County total: 34.9, up 7.7%
Cowlitz County total: 39.5, down 5.2%
Grays Harbor County total: 39.5, up 10.6%
Yakima County total: 50.4, up 2%
Washington state overall: 39.8, down .3%
Source: Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Crime in Washington 2010 Annual Report