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NK a safer place than might be assumed

KINGSTON — The Little City by the Sea is known for its quiet, small town way of life. Pretty much everyone knows each other’s name and who is associated with what organization. There always seem to be plans for improving the area, from adding flower baskets on the lamp posts to helping small businesses prosper.

But there is also a not so pleasant aspect of life in Kingston that no one likes to deal with until it happens.

For the past year, some residents and business owners have been noticing what they believe to be an increase in the amount of crime in the North End. A prime example is the frequency of burglaries in Kingston’s retail areas — five stores at George’s Corner in January 2003, two stores at the Kingston Thriftway complex in August 2003, Kingston Classic Cycle in December 2003 and the Harborview Plaza in downtown Kingston in September 2004.

However, law enforcement officials assure this perception is untrue and that crime in the area isn’t on the rise. In fact, it’s on the decline.

“Not by leaps and bounds,” said Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office deputy and spokesman Scott Wilson. “We’re seeing small percentages but that’s a good thing.”

This is the first of a two-part series on the amount and types of crimes in the North End, particularly in Kingston. Today’s article highlights where it’s happening, how much has taken place and how much it has decreased; Saturday’s article will explore actions residents can take to help prevent crime in their area.

Alert neighbors are key to lower crime levels

Wilson said there are two primary reasons why it seems likely there is an increase in suspicious activity — residents are paying more attention to who and what goes through their neighborhoods and are reporting it to law enforcement. Additionally, he noted, the local media is writing up more incidents from police reports.

But, according to the number of cases filed with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office between 2000 and 2004, crime has decreased:

• Kingston (including areas adjacent to Little Boston) — 1,152 in 2000; 868 in 2004

• Hansville — 177 in 2000; 122 in 2004

• Suquamish — 375 in 2000; 246 in 2004

• Port Gamble — 12 in 2000; 10 in 2004

• Indianola — 220 in 2000; 104 in 2004

• Unincorporated Poulsbo — 1,341 in 2000; 1,200 in 2004

Wilson attributes about 30 percent of the decrease to the department’s new filing system that helps reduce paperwork, as deputies are no longer filing reports for accidentally tripped house alarms or verbal disputes that do not involve criminal activity.

But overall, there has been a decrease in reported criminal incidents, he said.

According to an analysis done by the KCSO of reports filed from Kingston addresses only, from 2001 to June 2004, crime has decreased by more than half, from 1,042 crimes reported to 467 reported. These are hard numbers, Wilson said, where reports were hand pulled and categorized, allowing the agency to see just exactly what has, or has not, been taking place. Categories include homicide, rape, robbery, assaults, burglary, theft and arson, which are all reportable to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, plus minor gross misdemeanors, including DUIs and shoplifting.

The highest were thefts, while the two lowest categories were homicide (zero cases) and arson (eight cases).

But the county has no official explanation for the decrease in the numbers, Wilson said, however, crime rates tend to follow the same cycle as the economy — typically when unemployment is increases, theft increase and vice versa. Thieves tend to steal to get money to pay for food to put on their table or for drugs, Wilson said.

Where criminals

leave their mark

As for what type of activity occurs where, each neighborhood tends to be targeted for different crimes, Wilson said.

Suspicious people, speeding, property theft, burglary, vandalism and malicious mischief are cases commonly found in Hansville, Port Gamble and Indianola. Little Boston, Kingston and Suquamish tend to have much of the same, plus domestic violence, drugs and assault.

The biggest area affected is unincorporated Poulsbo, which includes all areas outside the Poulsbo city limits, expanding as far east as the Clearwater Casino and as far north as Miller Bay Road and West Kingston Road. Within this area, there a larger mix of everything, Wilson said.

Uncommon crime in the North End include homicide and rape, Wilson said. According to the 2001-June 2004 analysis, there were no homicides during this three-year period and the number of reported rapes dropped slightly from four in 2001 to three by June 2004.

“Rape” in a police report could be one of several types. These include child molestation, rape of a child (an adult having sex with a minor) or forcible rape, whether it is physically or property-related. An example of the latter is the suspect holding the victim’s personal belongings or property hostage until they consent to sex.

Crime on local construction sites a problem

One trend that seems to have received more attention in the past year has been burglaries on construction sites.

This, however, is not a new thing, Wilson said, and as long as contractors

leave their tools or raw materials on the site and open for taking, it will always be a problem.

“We have to recommend over and over again to them to mark their tools,” he

said.

If materials are unmarked, they can be easily sold. Marked items, such as those wrapped with brightly colored tape, may deter burglars because they are more difficult to sell.

Other options for construction crews include hiring a person to patrol the site. The sheriff’s department is currently working with the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County to establish a watch program, in which contractors would pay to have a person randomly check the sites.

Saturday: What to do to prevent crimes in the area

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