Crime in the nation's largest cities -- including Toledo -- is decreasing at a faster rate than crime in surrounding suburban areas, according to a new report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.
The 23-page report shows in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas between 1990 and 2008, violent crime fell by 21 percent and property crime declined by 42 percent.
In the primary cities in those regions during the same period, violent crime fell 29 percent while property crimes dropped by 46 percent. In the surrounding suburban areas during the same time period, the violent crime rate dropped by 7 percent while property crime dropped by 37 percent, according to the report.
Despite decreases in urban areas, crime in cities remains significantly higher overall than suburban crime.
"I think there are some types of crimes that are more unique to urban areas, such as when you're talking about gang problems and drivebys, and open drug trafficking," Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre said. "You're not going to see that so much in the suburbs. In the suburbs you have more quality-of-life type crimes -- car break-ins, thefts from autos, break-ins to houses. You see more and more in the suburbs.
"Criminals realize that sometimes what they're looking for is more abundant in the suburbs, small items of value -- jewelry, cash, flat-screen TVs continue to be a very popular item," Chief Navarre added.
Toledo, one of seven Ohio cities included in the report, had 4,335 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2008, down from 5,545 in 2000 and 5,495 in 1990.
In the suburban areas -- which looks at Lucas, Ottawa, Fulton, and Wood counties -- violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2008 were reported at 952, a significant increase over 456 in 2000 and 672 in 1990, according to the report.
Property crimes in Toledo steadily decreased over the two decades from 8,620 to 5,882. In the suburbs, property crime decreased to 1,968 in 2000 from 1,968 in 1990, then increased to 2,377 in 2008, the report indicates.
Based on the information in the report, suburban crime is increasing.
"I think it's a population shift," Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said. "There's no question more people moved out into Wood County, and with the population going up about 3 percent a year, we have more people, so certainly crime has gone up ... by the percentage of the population."
Despite the increase, calls for service have gone down, Sheriff Wasylyshyn said, adding that fewer people driving because of gas prices and that reports of burglaries have also gone down.
In Sylvania, according to the police department's 2010 annual report, reported crime increased 1 percent, making it the first year in the past four with an increase in reports, but reported major crimes decreased by 8 percent between 2006 and 2010.
The report also found that, as populations shift and communities become more diverse, relationships between crime and community demographics weakened.
On Monday, the FBI released its annual crime report, which showed a decrease in violent crimes in Toledo in 2010 from the previous two years -- a trend most U.S. cities experienced.
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6054.
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