LEICESTER, Mass. — Leicester saw an overall decrease in crime over the course of 2012, with a decline in 17 out of 28 incident categories. There was no change reported in violent crimes, and a 14.3 percent drop in property crime.
FBI crime reports from 2011 and Leicester Police data compiled for 2012 shows a steady total of 14 incidents of violent crime, which includes zero murders in both years, but cases of forcible rape increasing from two to four. Robberies decreased from two to one, and aggravated assaults fell from 10 to nine.
Property crime saw an overall decline of 14.3 percent, with 181 total incidents in 2011 dropping to 155 in 2012. Cases of larceny-theft fell from 121 to 102, motor vehicle theft dropped from 17 to 9, and there was one case of arson each year.
The number of house breaks in Leicester also plateaued, with 43 occurring in 2011 as well as 2012, said police Chief Jim Hurley.
"Where everybody else in the area has really seen a lot of them, we stayed absolutely level," he added. "When it comes to house breaks, knowledge is power, and we work very hard with the Worcester County Breaking and Entering Task force to keep our officers informed on who's out there doing house breaks, what types of vehicles they're using and when they're most likely to hit."
In one incident, police were were able to capture, charge and convict a particularly evasive copper thief who had been hitting homes in the area and escaping attempts at surveillance.
"We actually had officers go around town and pick out potential targets and do periodic checks," said Hurley. "Luck of the draw, the guy got caught right at one of the houses."
At the top of the department's focus was the increase of rapes from two to four, which Hurley said is "four too many."
Yet the chief also said this at least tells him the department is approachable.
"We never truly know the number of sexual assaults, because it's one of most under-reported crimes," he said. "If the number were zero, I'd be concerned that the incidents are occurring and are just not being reported."
Hurley said sexual assault is the most serious offense in Leicester.
"I've been here almost seven years and we haven't had a murder, we've had one bank robbery, so these really get our attention when they come in."
The department works to have an open agency where the victim feels comfortable coming in to report the incident, which Hurley says they accomplish through a collaborative effort between police, the district attorney's office and victim services.
Shoplifting is up 122 percent over past year. Hurley said that, in years past, people were shoplifting flat-screen TV's, but now police are seeing more people go out the door with food.
"That's a sign of the economic times," he added.
The chief attributed the overall decline in Leicester crime to the department's personnel.
"I can set the standard and dictate policy, but when it comes down to production, it's the officers on the road who make the difference," he said.
Though happy to see the drop in crime this year, Hurley said, "The bottom line with me is I was pleased with the statistics when they came out on Jan. 2, but now it's time to focus on how we can even further improve."
The following gives a snapshot of the incidents over the course of 2012. Data for comparison was compiled from FBI crime reports from 2011 and Leicester Police data provided for 2012. The number in parentheses indicates if there has been a rise, decline, or no change from the previous year. An asterisk denotes a decline for second consecutive year.
- Murder = 0 (0 percent)
- Rape (forcible) = 4 (+100 percent)
- Assault (aggravated) = 9 (-10 percent)
- Robbery =1 (-50 percent)
Total = 14 incidents (0 percent from 14 in 2011)
- Larceny (from building) = 31 (+48 percent)
- Larceny (all others) = 71 (-24 percent)*
- Vehicle Theft = 9 (-50 percent)
- Arson = 1 (0 percent)
- Breaking & Entering = 43 (0 percent)
Total = 155 (-14.3 percent from 181 in 2011)
All Other Categories
- Rape (statutory) = 2 (-60 percent)
- Indecent Assaults = 1 (-50 percent)*
- Assault (simple) = 27 (-23 percent)*
- Intimidation = 13 (-35 percent)*
- Theft from Vehicles = 7 (-71 percent)*
- Shoplifting = 20 (+122 percent)
- Identity Theft = 16 (-36 percent)
- Destruction of Property = 87 (+14 percent)
- Narcotics Violations = 35 (-24 percent)*
- Pornography = 3 (-25 percent)
- Weapons Violations = 5 (-17 percent)
- Runaways = 9 (+80 percent)
- Liquor Law Violations = 15 (-25 percent)
- Disorderly Conduct = 23 (+35 percent)
- Public Intoxication = 22 (-41 percent)
- DUI = 31 (-18 percent)*
- Credit Card Fraud = 3 (-40 percent)*
- All Other Crimes = 95 (+2 percent)
- Stolen Property = 111 (-64 percent)
1. Calls for Service (CFS)/Patrol Initiated Activity (PIA) = 27,388 (-3,253 CFS/PIA)
2. Accident Investigations = 267 (+4 accidents)
3. Arrest/Criminal Summonses = 532 (-8 arrests/summonses)
4. Medical Responses = 900 (+58 medical calls)
5. Investigative/Offense Reports = 835 (-86 reports)
6. Alarms (All Types) = 359 (+86 alarm calls)
7. Motor Vehicle Stops = 2,564 (+20 traffic stops)