Boone’s 288 percent increase in burglary crime ‘deceiving’

The crime rate for business-burglary in Boone has increased 288 percent from last year, according to 2012 Boone Police Department crime statistics.

Statistics show eight accounts were recorded for business burglary in 2011 and so far this year, there are 31 accounts recorded.

Three people who committed a “crime spree,” beginning last November through this March, are the cause of this increase, Cpt. Andy Le Beau, commander of investigations, said.

Ashe County police reported burglary’s with same methods of criminal activity, such as the businesses ‘doors being pried open’, Le Beau said.

Boone police were able to catch the suspects based on our combined information, Le Beau said.

The three offenders were responsible for 22 of the accounts, Le Beau said.

Matthew Robinson, professor in the Department of Government and Justice Studies and coordinator of the criminal justice program has specifically studied burglary for 15 years.

When there’s an increase in rates, it could be that more burglaries were reported or that more were discovered by the police, Robinson said.

“We even have evidence that crime statistics are manipulated either up or down for political reasons,” Robinson said.

Andrew Ferguson, lecturer of social sciences and criminologist, said using crime statistics as a trend indicator with raw numbers “can be deceiving.”

This is especially true in areas that have low crime to begin with, Ferguson said.

“If a series of violent crimes were committed by a single actor, on a single night, and those crimes were each as separate accounts, this would make Watauga County look especially dangerous or crime ridden, which isn’t realistic,” Ferguson said.

If the public doesn’t understand the nuances of crime reporting and its limitations, then a sudden increase in a crime rate may be interpreted as ‘an immediate crisis,’ Ferguson said.

“But I don’t think that is what we are seeing here at this time,” Ferguson said.


Story: KASI MITCHELL, News Reporter