By TRENTON JOHNSON
Capital News Service
LANSING—The overall crime rate has decreased statewide in Michigan but a rise in theft crimes remains a threat to safety, including in the northern Lower Peninsula, experts say.
Eddie Washington Jr., director of the State Police, said the drop in overall reported crimes is not surprising and that the crime rate and unemployment rate are not directly correlated.
Washington said, “Within the state, there have been times where the economy was good but the crime rate was still high.”
Theft crimes include property crimes, larcenies, burglaries and stolen vehicles.
In Traverse City, 1,028 theft crimes were reported in 2009 said Jamie Mathews, of the State Police Criminal Justice Information Center. That was up from 1,004 in 2007.
In Petoskey, the number rose to 252 in 2009 from 250 in 2008, Mathews said.
In Alpena, the number went up to 696 in 2009 from 672 in 2008.
Police departments are dealing with different types of theft crimes.
Kim Shomin, office manager for the Emmet County Sheriff’s Department, said no one type is dominant. The department doesn’t track the most commonly stolen items, she said.
Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley said there is not one particular theft crime that occurs most often although one type has become more evident in the county.
“We’ve seen larceny in auto-theft crimes and people break into vehicles looking for money,” Bensley said.
Over the past few years, there have been drug store burglaries in the county as well, Bensley said. That has contributed to the rise in reported theft crimes, he said.
Bensley said his department puts a high priority on serious crimes.
Theft crimes are considered important, he said. The department has enough officers to handle those, Bensley said.
© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.