Niagara Gazette — Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour says he’s been studying crime trends here and he likes what he sees.
“I’ve looked at the five-year trend since I started as sheriff,” he explained. “(Crime has) steadily declined and those decreases are across the board.”
However, a review of 2013 crime stats offered a mixed bag of results. While crime in the county dropped by double digits, there were a couple of troublesome categories.
Overall, Niagara County saw a 13 1/2 percent drop in violent and property crimes in 2013 compared to 2012. There were significant reductions in burglaries, for example, but a large spike in robberies.
Undersheriff Mike Filicetti said, when it comes to crime stats, law enforcement agencies sometimes have to take “the good with the bad.”
“Statewide and nationally, the trend in violent crime has been up in small percentages,” he said. “And we’re no exception.”
From 2012 to 2013, the number of violent crimes countywide increased from 52 to 61. Virtually all of that increase came in the number of robberies, which spiked from five in 2012 to 22 in 2013.
The targets of those robberies ranged from banks and gas stations to people’s residences.
“We try to be proactive (in addressing spike in robberies),” Filicetti said. “(We do that) by reassigning resources to the hot spots we identify. You try to look for the prime targets (for robberies) and work with other agencies as well as redeploy your resources.”
In a recent example of that strategy, where a pair of armed bandits were on a robbery spree in Niagara and northern Erie counties, the sheriff’s office worked with other local police agencies and State Police to beef up patrols in business districts.
“We had deputies watching the traffic corridors (where the robbers were working),” Voutour said. “I told them, ‘You may not catch (the robbers) walking out of a store, but you may get them as they drive away.’ “