Concord, New Hampshire
in fact the location of the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” as was erroneously stated by a political candidate last year: that was Concord, Massachusetts. But the more northern Concord is the capital of The Granite State, and a lovely city as well. And while its pleasant name reportedly stems from the resolution of a bitter border dispute over two hundred years ago, residential crime
is making life there a bit less harmonious, as reported in this recent article.
Serious crime rose last year in Concord, but the city's police chief says that isn't necessarily cause for alarm. The number of serious violent and property crimes reported last year jumped 9 percent from 2010 and 13 percent over the last five years. The only violent crime to spike, however, was aggravated assault - a serious offense, but one that doesn't always involve a random victim, said police Chief John Duval.
Silver Lining in the Statistical Cloud
"Any time we see an increase, we look at that and we want to bring those down," Duval said. "But it's not necessarily that we are less safe as a community than we were last year, from a general public perspective." In many instances, the assault victims and their attackers knew each other through criminal activity, Duval said.
Burglaries on the Rise
A swell in burglaries and larcenies also contributed to the overall rise in serious crime. The department determines the level of serious crime by tracking eight offenses: murder or manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft and larceny. The number of burglaries climbed from 175 in 2010 to 200 last year, while larcenies - which include shoplifting offenses - rose from 1,133 incidents in 2010 to 1,197.
In Line with Other Communities
The increase isn't unique to Concord. Across the state, communities experienced "a little bit of an uptick" in crimes in 2010, said Dennis Delay, economist for the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, which recently published a report tracking crime in New Hampshire. Delay said the statewide increase "seemed to be more concentrated in property-type crimes," which the Concord police define as burglary, motor vehicle theft and larceny.
Not the Economy?
"You could, I think, point to the impact of the Great Recession on the ability of people to make ends meet," Delay said. "But this assumption people have made about people in dire straits turning to a life of crime . . . it's just not true," he said. "People don't become more violent if they're unemployed. "In Concord, Duval said he thinks drugs, not the economy, are to blame for the city's heightened crime rate. Addiction "is a major contributing factor," Duval said.
Attributing the general increase in burglaries to drug addiction is common these days, and law enforcement professionals are the ones making the call. And after all, they are the ones in the trenches, so they should know.
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