Rockland sees another record low crime year
Rockland — Rockland Police Chief Bruce Boucher said continued outstanding work by officers is behind yet another record low crime year for the city.
The preliminary crime statistics for 2016 show that the number of serious crimes dropped to 168. This is down from the previous record low of 203 reached in 2015 and down more than half from 2010, when 427 such crimes were reported.
The city's crime rate has dropped each year since 2010.
The statewide figures have not yet been compiled, but in 2015, Rockland's crime rate had dropped to the 24th-highest in Maine. This was a dramatic change from 2010, when the city had the third-highest rate among Maine municipalities.
One factor in the decline was the relocation of Wal-Mart to Thomaston in October 2013. That led to a sharp drop in the number of larcenies (which includes shoplifting) in Rockland. There was a corresponding spike in larcenies in Thomaston beginning in 2013.
But even removing the Wal-Mart factor, crimes have continued to drop in Rockland.
In 2016, there were a total of 168 crimes of the eight types included in the annual uniform crime reports maintained by departments across the state and country.
For the sixth year in a row, there have been no murders in the city.
There was one reported rape in 2016 in Rockland. There were none reported in 2015.
For the fourth straight year, there were no robberies reported. Robbery is defined as stealing something with the use of force or with a weapon.
There was one aggravated assault reported in 2016. Aggravated assault is when the victim is injured or a weapon is used.
A record low 17 burglaries were reported in 2016. This is down from 25 in 2015. In 2010, 45 burglaries were reported in the city.
There were 142 larcenies reported in 2016, down from 172 in 2015. Larcenies include shoplifting, thefts from burglaries, thefts from motor vehicles, and stolen bicycles.
Three motor vehicles were reported stolen in 2016. This is down from four in 2015 and 12 in 2010.
Four arsons were reported in 2016. This is up from one 2015. There were four in 2010.
The department was able to clear a third of the 168 reported crimes. This is about the statewide average.
Boucher quoted Sir Robert Peel in explaining the success of the department in reducing the crime rate. Peel was a 19th-century British politician who is credited with creating the first modern police department.
Peel's first principle of law enforcement was that the basic mission of a department was to prevent crime. The department works with businesses in offering crime prevention tips.
The chief in past years has also cited cooperation between departments across the region and demographics -- an aging population -- for the decline of crime in Rockland.
The crime drop in Rockland is part of a national trend in most communities.
While the number of serious crimes has declined, the number of calls to the department have continued to increase. There were 10,588 calls recorded last year, up from 9,735 in 2015.
Boucher said those calls include checking on the well-being of residents, responding to car crashes, checks on people on bail and probation, meetings with schools and businesses, and responding to crimes that are not part of the eight included in the uniform crime reports. Those lesser crimes include criminal mischief, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.