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Utah crime rates drop, except for hot spots

Utah crime rates drop, except for hot spots



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Felony crimes dropped across Utah last year, but a few hot spots--Tooele, Hurricane and Syracuse --saw rates rise sharply.

Overall, the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification says serious crimes across the state declined compared with a decade ago when adjusted for the state's population increase.

Salt Lake City and Ogden credit a focus on troublesome neighborhoods and holding beat officers and their supervisors accountable for declines in those two cities. Even steeper declines were reported in smaller municipalities such as Farmington and Brigham City.

State officials say 39 of 85 Utah cities and universities reported increases in felony crimes.

They include Syracuse, where the population tripled in a decade to 24,000 people. It saw felony rates rise 40 percent last year.

"We are seeing an influx in property crimes," Syracuse police Lt. Tracy Jensen told The Salt Lake Tribune in a story published Sunday.

Jensen said he got two reports on one day recently that thieves were breaking into cars and stealing money, cameras. They also took credit cards and used them to purchases at a mall.

The Syracuse Police Department added 11 officers last year, for a total of 19.

The felony rate--a figure expressed in crimes per 1,000 population--also rose in Tooele, a bedroom community for Salt Lake City, and Hurricane in southern Utah. Each city logged a 25-percent increase by that formula.

Sociology and criminal justice scholars say crime rates are notoriously erratic and difficult to explain or predict.

Scott Senjo, a criminal justice professor at Weber State University, credits federal funding that boosted police departments for some of the decrease statewide.

Utah added about 700 police officers from 2001 to 2008 for a total of 4,753, according to state statistics.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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