TACOMA -- According to a new report, Tacoma is number one city in Western Washington when it comes to property crimes.
The City of Tacoma Blue Ribbon Property Crimes Reduction Task Force recently completed a report for city leaders to consider ways to reduce crime in the city.
The task force recommends that city leaders tackle the root of many property crimes, not just the criminals. That could mean providing a burglary suspect with drug counseling or temporary housing – instead of only tossing them behind bars.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said homeowner Tim Morton, but adding, “I didn’t think we were the top number one.”
But according to the task force, no other city in Western Washington had a higher per capita rate of larcenies, car thefts, burglaries or fraud in 2014.
Morton, a North Slope Historic District resident, knows what it is like to be a victim of a property crime.
“At least six, maybe eight times in the past decade,” he said. “It may have been higher, I’m not sure.”
The task force said Tacoma records more than 21,000 property crimes in each of the past three years.
And according to PierceCountyCrimeData.org, between May of 2015 to May of this year, car thefts are up 38%, car prowls are up 10%, robberies are up 26% and vandalism is up 20%.
“I think it’s going to take all of us working together,” said task force co-chair, Priscilla Lisicich. “It’s not just the police.”
Lisicich believes putting a dent in the increasing property crime rates means the city must take a different approach when dealing with criminals – who in many cases are feeding a drug habit.
“Do they need housing? Do they need job training? Have they not ever completed their education?” she asked. “What are the steps we can take to help support people to be able to get on a better path for themselves?”
The task force has 35 recommendations for city leaders – it’s an effort to co-mingle the criminal justice system with education, job training, housing, and addiction services to keep suspects from an endless cycle of incarceration.
“It’s a whole system’s approach,” said Lisicich.
The task force also said adding more officers to the streets could help, but it’s not absolutely necessary to reduce crime rates.
For homeowners like Morton, he wants to see what the city can do with what it already has instead of resorting to a tax hike.
“I pay taxes here and I’d really like to see where the money goes, to see if I’m getting my money’s worth,” he said.
The task force added that it’s also important for homeowners to be a part of the solution by reducing their likely hood of becoming a victim. Doing simple things like locking the doors at home and removing items of values from your car could reduce the likelihood of being victimized.
The task force’s report is now in the hands of the Tacoma City Council, which could publicly review the findings next month.