A continuing rise in robberies and a spike in aggravated assaults gave Oklahoma City a 17 percent increase in violent crime in 2008, the FBI reported Monday. Nationwide, violent crime was down 2.5 percent from 2007 figures, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report. Oklahoma City saw small declines in murder and forcible rape. Oklahoma City police Master Sgt. Gary Knight said the increased number of robberies matches a pattern that has been going on for a while, but the higher number of assaults was unexpected. "Those are very hard crimes to predict,” he said. Robberies in Oklahoma City have increased nearly 30 percent since 2006, including a 9 percent jump from 2007 to 2008. The number of assaults has remained relatively stable for the past eight years, but in 2008 jumped 24 percent, from 2,831 to 3,501. It was the first year since at least 2001 that Oklahoma City had more than 3,000 assaults. The violent crime rate in Tulsa rose 8 percent in 2008. As in Oklahoma City, the main factor in Tulsa’s increase was the rate of aggravated assaults, up by almost 11 percent. The report also included statistics for Norman, which showed little change in its violent crime rates and an 8.2 percent decrease in property crime.
More women seeking shelter from violenceJosh Beasley, development officer for the Oklahoma City YWCA, said he has seen an increase in the number of women seeking support from the domestic violence program. He said calls to the domestic violence hot line are up, and so are requests to stay in the domestic violence shelter. "It’s happening more frequently,” Beasley said, "and when it happens, the violence is more intense.” He said that because of the economy and a general increase in stress, emotional abusers may now be turning to physical violence. Mark Woodward, spokesman for Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, said violent crime is often connected to drugs. "Either they’re under the influence when they commit the assault, or they commit the assault to support the addiction,” Woodward said.
Property crime jump expected, official saysThe FBI report states that property crimes increased by almost 2 percent in Oklahoma City. The rates of burglary and larceny also increased, but the number of vehicles stolen was down 15 percent. Jessica Brown, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said the increase in property crimes was not surprising. "All of us can consider the fact that the economy is down, and normally that leads to more property crime,” Brown said. Knight said the statistics will be considered when the department examines its approach to investigation and prevention of crime in Oklahoma City. "It’s something that goes into the equation of how we do our jobs,” he said.
Read the preliminary report for Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman
Read the preliminary uniform crime report
Read the press release by FBI