Assaults and burglaries were the only crimes to show an increase in Columbia during 2003, according to a crime statistics report released by the Columbia Police Department.
“We’re concerned about all crime, but our priority is Part 1 crime, or felony crime,” Police Chief Randy Boehm said. “Everything but assault and burglary has gone down or stayed the same.”
The numbers, which come from the annual Uniform Crime Report, show assaults rose by 11 percent, increasing from 287 in 2002 to 318 in 2003.
“We haven’t seen any particular reason why that occurred,” Boehm said. “What we do is see if we can determine a particular type of assault. In this case, we did not determine a particular reason.”
The total number of burglaries rose from 432 in 2002 to 459 in 2003.
Burglaries can be divided into crimes involving forced entry and no-force burglaries, which occur when someone enters through an unlocked door or window. The category showing an increase was the no-force burglaries. In 2003, there was a 37.5 percent increase: 154 incidents compared to 112 incidents in 2002. Burglaries that didn’t involve force showed a slight decrease from 2002.
“That is a crime that we do spend a lot of time talking about,” Boehm said. “A lot of time if the residence or structure had been properly secured, then the crime would not have occurred.”
Boehm says the police use the Uniform Crime Report for three things: to see whether the total number of crimes has increased or decreased, to see if there has been an increase in a particular type of crime, and to see the rate the crimes have been cleared.
A crime can be cleared either when a suspect has been arrested or when the suspect has been identified and a warrant has been issued, but the suspect can’t be caught.
The number of crimes cleared in Columbia is significantly higher than the national average. In Columbia, 35 percent of crimes are cleared compared to 20 percent nationally.
Boehm said the reduction in total number of crime reports is the result of a couple of things.
“Overall, when we see a decrease, we think it means, No. 1, that our officers are doing a great job in prevention and, No. 2, that the community is getting involved in helping us,” Boehm said. “They are securing their vehicles and homes, and thinking about crime prevention or calling us when they see suspicious behavior.”