New numbers indicate crime rate is falling

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PHOENIX - New numbers from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office show the Valley's crime rate is falling.

The Maricopa County Attorney credits Arizona's aggressive approach to illegal immigration for the drop in crime, but one key state senator remains unconvinced.

Crime and the border is a hot button topic. There are those who believe Arizona has no choice but to take action on illegal immigration since the federal government has done an abysmal job of securing the borders.

The other side says the Obama administration polices are beginning to bear fruit. The one thing both sides can agree on is that the crime rate in Maricopa County is falling.

“Robberies fell in Maricopa County 13.2 percent, aggravated assaults fell 8 percent,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

The news is encouraging words from Maricopa County's chief prosecutor especially considering the Valley's proximity to the border and the violent Mexican drug cartels. The latest crime statistics from the   FBI paint an improving picture for the state’s most populous county.

Last year according to the feds, violent crime in Maricopa county fell 9.5 percent compared to 6.2 percent nationally.

Property crime was down by 4.6 percent which is more than double the national rate. Perhaps the most striking statistic is auto thefts, which fell by more than 20 percent in Maricopa County. The national average was less than ten percent.

“I think Arizona's efforts to deal with the impact of illegal immigration and enhanced federal presence on the border also contributes to the reduction in the crime rate here in Maricopa County,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery said those efforts have also triggered an exodus of many illegal immigrants from Arizona. 

State senator Steve Gallarado scoffed at that logic.

“This is what we have been saying all along,” he said. “We’ve been saying the resources and man power along southern Arizona are working.”

According to the senator it is not because of the anti-illegal immigration efforts by state lawmakers, but in spite of those efforts.

The following are numbers released by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office:

National Crime Rates 2010 v. 2009:
6.2% decrease in violent crimes
2.8% decrease in property crimes
10.7% decline in robberies
3.9% decline in aggravated assaults
9.7% decline in motor vehicle thefts

Maricopa County Crime Rates 2010 v. 2009:
9.5% decrease in violent crimes
4.6% decrease in property crimes
13.2% decline in robberies
8.0% decline in aggravated assault
20.1% decline in motor vehicle thefts

Data comes from the latest FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR).  County crime rates are calculated using UCR figures for the 12 largest cities in Maricopa County.  Violent Crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.  Property Crimes include burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

2010 Case Submittals to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
6% decrease since 2009
10% decrease since 2008

The overwhelming majority of inmates in the Arizona Department of Corrections (nearly 95%) are repeat and violent offenders; very few are non-violent or first offenders.