Violent crime fell in Warren during 2015

WARREN – The 2015 FBI crime statistics are in, and like most states, violent crimes increased in Ohio, but Warren police report robberies and homicides are down.

The FBI’s annual Crime in the United States report compiles statistics from law enforcement agencies, covering 97.7 percent of the country’s population.

The report showed an increase of 3 percent in violent crime nationwide and a 2.2 percent uptick in Ohio. Michigan was the only state to see a decrease.

The FBI defines violent crimes as offenses that involve force or threat of force, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Although rape and robbery decreased less than 2 percent statewide, murder and aggravated assault increased 7.6 and 6.9 percent, respectively. In Youngstown, violent crimes increased by a rate above the state average, with murders rising 36 percent, aggravated assault rising 9.2 percent and, defying state decreases, robberies and rapes rose, too.

Nationally, murder increased at a rate of 10 percent, while rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults each rose between 0.5 percent and 4.3 percent.

Although the report did not provide specific figures for Warren, police Lt. Greg Hoso said that despite high numbers of drug overdoses in the city, violent crimes dropped.

“We have taken steps forward in (combating violent crime),” Hoso said. “But we can’t afford to lose anyone to layoffs, that would hurt the progress.”

Chief Eric Merkel released the crime numbers that his department provided to the FBI for 2014-15.

The city saw four murders in 2015, compared with eight in 2014; the department reported 51 rapes, 94 robberies and 613 aggravated assaults in 2015, compared with 45 rapes, 153 robberies and 639 aggravated assaults in 2014.

If the city wants to see overdose rates decline, Hoso said, the street crimes unit has to be able to dedicate officers to survey parking lots, gas stations and known drug houses, and have enough bodies to respond to overdose scenes, especially during clusters of them, to investigate who is bringing the batches into the city.

Liberty police Chief Richard Tisone said the violent trends aren’t leaking into his Trumbull County bedroom community that borders the northside of Youngstown.

“We haven’t changed anything that we’ve been doing,” Tisone said, noting the numbers for violent crimes in Liberty have leveled off in 2014 and 2015. “We have been very fortunate that we haven’t had any major upticks. We usually get a homicide or two every eight years.”

The FBI report also compiled statistics about property crimes that include the offenses of burglary, larceny / theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. These offenses are grouped together because there is no force or threat against the victims.

The report showed decreases in property crimes from 2014 to 2015, both nationwide – 3.4 percent – and in Ohio – 7 percent. The report showed Ohio reported the greatest decrease among the 50 states in the rate of burglary a decrease of 12.9 percent, from 685.2 burglaries per 100,000 population in 2014 to 596.7 per 100,000 population in 2015.

In Youngstown, property crimes were generally down 8.8 percent, with the rate of burglary decreasing 21.7 percent. However, motor vehicle thefts and arsons increased 20.4 percent and 55.7 percent, respectively. Thefts decreased less than a percentage point.

In Warren, property crimes were down for all four offenses, according to statistics provided by Merkel’s office, with 220 fewer robberies or break-ins in 2015.

Tisone noted that Liberty’s robbery offenses were down 14 percent from 2014 to 2015.

“Most of our robberies usually are of the shoplifting variety that usually escalate,” he said.