Report: 2016 Alaska murders down; rape, robbery up
An updated overview of crime in Alaska, compiled by state officials, shows rates of murder and arson down in 2016 – but rape, robbery, assault and many property crimes on the rise, including a steep spike in car thefts.
Both violent and non-violent crime rates increased in Alaska last year, despite declining or flat national trends.
The state’s overall murder rate, including cases of non-negligent manslaughter but excluding justifiable homicides, fell 12.3 percent from 2015 to 2016 according to the report. The decrease to seven per 100,000 people reflected a drop from 59 deaths in 2015 to 52 in 2016, despite more than 30 Anchorage homicides last year – a toll not seen in Alaska’s largest city since 1995.
Of those cases, roughly four-fifths – 42 cases – were cleared by law enforcement, with investigations leading to criminal charges being filed.
“Of the offenders, 16.1 percent were juveniles, 73.2 percent were aged 18 and over, and the remaining 10.7 percent were unknown offenders,” state officials wrote. “7.7 percent of the victims were juveniles. While only 3.6 percent of the offenders were female, 42.3 percent of the victims were female. Of the 52 murders recorded, 82 percent involved a firearm.”
Alaska’s arson rate decreased by 21.3 percent from 2015 to 2016 according to the report. People arrested for the crime were overwhelmingly male and juvenile, making up 80.6 and 55 percent of suspects respectively.
Several categories of violent crime saw year-on-year 2016 increases according to the data, with rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults up 16.6 percent, 11.2 percent and 8.7 percent to 142, 114.8 and 540.5 offenses per 100,000 people respectively. The 1,049 rape cases reported in 2016 included 89 attempted rapes; property totaling just over $637,000 was taken in the robberies; and hands and feet were used in 28.4 percent of the assault cases, just ahead of 22.1 percent which involved firearms.
The sharpest 2016 increase flagged in the report, motor vehicle thefts, showed a staggering 48.7 percent jump to 412.8 thefts per 100,000 people from the previous year. That figure was associated with a rise from 2,040 stolen vehicles in 2015 to 3,049 in 2016.
Of the 2016 cases, only 565 – about one-sixth of them – were cleared by law enforcement.
“The reported property loss related to motor vehicle theft was $23,246,920, an increase of over nine million dollars from 2015,” state officials wrote.
Burglary and larceny rates increased 14.8 percent and 16.1 percent in 2016, representing losses of $10,851,507 and $13,849,083 respectively.
In Anchorage, police have taken several steps this year to address property crimes, including adding more foot patrols by officers in Mountain View, Fairview and Spenard. Earlier this week, police discussed the results of focusing two units on drug enforcement, saying there is still work to be done.
More than 30 Alaska law enforcement agencies, including the Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau police departments, contributed 2016 data to the report.