The violent crime rate continues plunging, but property crime is on the rise, in Sandy Springs.
In a preliminary budget hearing May 2, Police Chief Ken DeSimone told the City Council that violent crime in 2016 was down 11.26 percent from the previous year. Property crime increased 13.28 percent. That put the overall crime rate up about 2 percent.
Violent crime covers several categories, such as murder, robbery and assault. In hard numbers, 134 violent crimes were reported last year in Sandy Springs. That number has fallen regularly since the city’s incorporation in 2005, despite a growing population now topping 105,000, which the chief said surprised even him.
However, property crimes — like burglary and vehicle theft — are up, with 2,867 reported last year. DeSimone said a major contributor to that increase was thefts from cars, often those left unlocked by their owners. He cited the Perimeter Pointe shopping center at Mount Vernon Highway and Perimeter Center West, next to the Sandy Springs MARTA Station, as a particular hot spot for car break-ins. But that form of crime is happening everywhere in the city, the chief said.
Also on the rise are traffic accidents, while traffic citations are dropping. Vehicle crashes were up 8.35 percent last year to a whopping 7,491, the chief said. Police issued roughly 8 percent fewer tickets in 2016 than the year before — but still enough to give speeders pause: 24,049.
Asked by councilmembers whether the fewer citations might be leading to more accidents, DeSimone suggested it’s the other way around. When officers are tied up dealing with crash scenes, they have less time to ticket people, he said.