Crime rose 15% in the city of Fulton from 2008 to 2009, according to annual statistics released by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services on Monday.
The increase was driven entirely by a surge in non-violent property crimes such as burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. There were 511 reported property crimes in 2009, up 16.4% from the year before.
The number of violent crimes fell from 21 reported cases in 2008 to 17 in 2009, continuing a 5 year trend. Reports of violent crime are about half of what they were five years before.
The overall increase in reported crimes ended a four year decline in crime in the city.
Fulton Police Department Deputy Chief Tom Abelgore believes that there probably has not been an increase in property crimes, but there has been an increase in the numbers of people who report those crimes to police.
He cites the case of a reported car break-in: “With a single report (of a break-in) in hand, we’ll always canvas the area and that will normally bring more cases out” that would not have been reported otherwise.
Though crime tends to increase with economic downturns, Abelgore does not believe that’s a factor here. “Fulton is kind of a low income area anyway,” he said.
Violent crime drops
The continuing drop in violent crime, he says, is due in part to the department’s aggressive approach to stopping crime. Abelgore cites the effort the department made to wipe out a street gang that was trying to operate in the city.
The gang was called KOP, for the Knock Out Posse. They were, he said, a significant source of criminal activity in the city.
“We throw as many resources as we can and try to arrest the problem,” he said of the department’s general effort on a big problem.Â Of the gang, he said, “We arrested them at every opportunity.”
Eventually, gang members went to jail on drug charges, for robbing a Burger King restaurant, and other crimes.Â Abelgore said the gang is no longer active in the city.
Fulton’s trend of an increase in property crimes and a decrease in violent crimes was seen at the countywide level as well.
Among all county police agencies, violent crime dropped 4% while property crimes rose 8% for an overall increase of 7%.
Oswego’s city police department was the only large police agency to record a drop in both violent and property crimes in 2009. There, both types of crimes had spiked the year before.
The annual report is compiled by the state from data delivered by all of the police agencies in the state. In Oswego County, that includes the State Police barracks located in the county, the Sheriff’s Department, the Fulton and Oswego city police departments, the village departments in Central Square, Phoenix and Pulaski, and the SUNY Oswego police department.
State Parks Police based in the county began reporting their data statewide during 2009 and police working for CSX railroad stopped reporting data in 2009.
The data for Phoenix village police was reported to be missing 8 months of data for 2009.