By Oliver Lazenby
Are crime rates rising in Blaine?
A new study shows that crime increased last year, but Blaine Police Department records and administrative manager Lisa Moeller said it’s probably not a long-term trend.
The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs’ most recent report showed a 31.5-percent jump in the number of crimes reported by Blaine police in 2015. Some of the biggest increases came in burglary, destruction of property and other property crimes.
In total, 422 criminal offenses were reported in 2015, up from 321 in 2014, and Blaine police made 91 arrests.
Moeller said a few factors are skewing the numbers, and the jump in reported crimes last year may not reflect an overall rise in crime.
One factor is that 2014 was a particularly low year for crime in Blaine, so that makes 2015 look worse by comparison. There were 15 burglaries in 2014, for example, and the average number of burglaries for the previous few years was in the mid 20s, Moeller said.
In 2015, the number of burglaries jumped to 45.
“That’s still a pretty big jump from the average of the previous years,” Moeller said.
But the number is still small enough that a string of burglaries – perhaps committed by one individual – can have an outsized effect on the data.
“We did have a pretty big string of burglaries in 2015, and the county sheriff’s office saw the same thing in the surrounding areas,” she said. “We don’t know for certain that they were related, but there were several very close together, so it’s possible that it can be attributed to one individual.”
Destruction of property crimes jumped from 43 reported incidents in 2014 to 87 last year. That could also be explained, at least partially, by a string of crimes, Moeller said.
“There was a string of incidents in Semiahmoo with damage to several lawns and mailboxes,” she said. “It’s interesting how one spree like that can really change the numbers, because each address is a different crime.”
The numbers could be further skewed by new software and other changes in the way the state collects this data from local jurisdictions, Moeller said. So far in 2016, Blaine police have not seen high numbers of crimes, Moeller said.