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Merrimack Valley

February 17, 2013

Crime down, test scores up under Lantigua? Not so fast...

LAWRENCE - Student test scores are up. The credit rating is climbing. More veterans are being served. More potholes are getting filled. More developers are breaking ground.

The only thing dropping is the crime rate.

That’s the upbeat state of the city Mayor William Lantigua described in an address to the City Council on Feb. 5.

Some of it checks out, the records show. Some don’t.

These are statements Lantigua made during his State of the City address about major issues facing Lawrence, and how they compare to the record.

Lantigua did not return a phone call seeking comment.

CRIME

“Crime has dropped to the lowest level in nearly a decade.”

Lantigua did not respond to a request for 2012 crime data, so the claim can’t be verified for the full decade he cited. But for the decade that ended Dec. 31, 2011 – two years into Lantigua’s term - the number of violent crimes increased 44.6 percent, from 528 to 764, according to data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The trends are uneven, the FBI data shows. Robberies increased 57 percent in 2011 compared to 2002. Assaults were up 45 percent. Rapes dropped 55 percent. Murders increased five-fold, from two in 2002 to 10 in 2011, equal to the most ever. (The number of murders in 2012 is available from news reports: two people were murdered in Lawrence last year, the lowest number since 2005, as Lantigua said in his address.)

The total number of crimes against property dropped 7 percent, from 2,667 in 2002 to 2,481 in 2011. Burglaries jumped 79 percent. Larcenies were unchanged.

In his address, Lantigua dwelled on the 33 percent decline in vehicle thefts over the decade. That number is accurate for the full decade, but vehicle thefts have soared under the Lantigua years, reversing years of decline. The number of vehicle thefts dropped steadily through the decade, from 1,509 in 2002 to 418 in 2009. In 2010, Lantigua’s first year in office, the number spiked to 769. The number jumped again the following year, to 1,026, the FBI data shows.

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