Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA - Arcata’s Public Safety Committee convened last week, kicking off with the latest facts and figures on the broad spectrum surge in crime.
In his “dashboard report,” Police Chief Brian Ahearn reported a 35 percent rise in violent crime and a whopping 42 percent rise in property crime over the same April period last year. Robberies are down, but all other categories are up.
Ahearn said that along with “a lot of factors,” he expected some kind of rise in property crime stats simply due to the recent availability of online crime reporting at cityofarcata.org. Some 50 citizens have utilized that channel, reporting predominantly property crimes.
“Quite frankly, I’d rather know that crime is there and have those data points,” Ahearn said. “If community members decide not to utilize that service or don’t call the police, we never get to know that crime occurred.”
The crime surge also correlates with post-pandemic reopening, and more people out and about. Comparing May of 2020, with the pandemic lockdown in full swing, to this year, with reopening in progress, about 15.9 percent more incidents have been reported.
The breakdown: 124 theft reports, up 11.7 percent; vandalism down 8 percent; 34 drunk in public reports, up 36 percent; 76 911 calls, up 28.8 percent; 83 unwanted subject calls, up 22 percent; 90 welfare checks, up 23.2 percent; 167 suspicious person vehicle and circumstance calls, up 4.3 percent.
Ahearn expects a further rise in online crime reporting as the community becomes familiar with the option. He said APD will, over the next year, convert to full online reporting, with a terminal available at the police station. Those who can’t manage will still be able to have an officer come and take a report. The chief agreed with Committeemember David Pate that the online reporting option is useful for those not comfortable with interfacing with police officers.
Ahearn couldn’t pinpoint any one reason why crime is rising in Arcata and elsewhere. “There’s just a lot of unrest right now,” he said. “As far as Arcata’s concerned, I really can’t say and I don’t want to speculate.”
He acknowledged the recent explosion in thefts of catalytic converters, saying that APD is aware of more than 30 reported cases. Thefts of the $3,000 units are being driven by skyrocketing prices for platinum. Two arrests have been made, though “clearly, they’re not the only two that are doing this,” Ahearn said.