Homicide, Rape, Robbery, Burglary and Car Theft All Up in Colorado

Homicide, Rape, Robbery, Burglary and Car Theft All Up in Colorado
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According to a just-released report from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, crime in the state circa 2016 was up in every major category, including homicides, rapes, robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts. The percentage increases over the previous year vary from 0.8 percent to 22 percent.

Our post yesterday about the Denver neighborhoods with the most violent crimes so far in 2017 highlighted such issues on a local level. But the CBI stats demonstrate that these are serious statewide concerns, too.

The statistics are based on reports from 244 law enforcement agencies across Colorado, and they're accompanied by graphics that track trends over a ten-year period.

This approach is particularly revealing when it comes to homicides. The 2016 total of 189 represents a 9.9 percent increase over the 172 that took place in 2015. But as you can see, this sum is higher than the number of homicides during any year in the past decade.

The trend line for rapes in Colorado is even more alarming. While the 3,512 rapes committed in 2016 represents a 7.2 percent increase over 2015, when 3,275 crimes of this sort were registered by the authorities, the totals have escalated steadily except for a dip in 2012. Anecdotal reports suggest that those who've been raped are going to police with more frequency than they once did, thanks to a gradual, if much too slow, easing of societal stigmas that tend to unfairly blame the victims. But that still doesn't explain why over 1,500 more rapes were committed last year than in 2007, when 1,949 of the offenses were reported.

In comparison, robberies have been on a steadier track. However, the 3,518 robberies in 2016 still add up to 5.9 percent more than the 3,321 in 2015. The CBI adds that a firearm was used in 1,391, or 39.5 percent, of the robberies, while a knife or cutting instrument factored into 355, or 10.1 percent. Additionally, so-called strong-arm tactics were reported in 1,314, or 37.4 percent of robberies last year.

The smallest increase in the CBI study was registered by burglaries. They were up 0.8 percent, from 23,333 in 2015 to 23,515 in 2016. But when increasing population is added to the calculus, the rate actually fell by 1.3 percent — the only major category where this element made a difference. Better yet, the total is lower than those from several previous years this past decade.

Nearly 50 percent of burglaries in 2016 involved forced entry, whereas 42.5 percent did not — meaning that the criminals were able to simply walk in and take what they liked.

The worst numbers in 2016 involve motor vehicle thefts, which rose by 22 percent over 2015. This year's total was 19,430, accounting for 38.7 percent of all major offenses reported. And once again, the amount is higher than in any other year dating back to 2007.

The CBI declines to interpret this data, and speculation for the increases shared with the Denver Post by law enforcers and officials isn't exactly insightful. No surprise that marijuana comes in for much of the blame. But whatever the real reasons, be they population increases, an influx of new residents from other states or a combination of factors, the statistics are undeniably dispiriting.

Here's a graphic offering a direct comparison of stats from 2016 and 2015. Note that the homicide numbers exclude negligent manslaughter, and that the overall offense totals don't precisely match the actual rate because of rounding in assorted categories.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts