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Murray Journal

Is Murray seeing an uptick in crime?

Jun 18, 2018 03:26PM ● By Carl Fauver

Murray saw 421 motor vehicles stolen in 2016. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave|s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

With the current building boom of new neighborhoods in Murray, many online real estate research websites have posted data for potential homebuyers about living in the city. Some of these websites, such as NeighborhoodScout, show Murray having a concerning upward trend in crime.

Websites such as NeighborhoodScout are online real estate databases that consolidate data regarding demographics, real estate values, crime and public school ratings. Data is gathered from federal and state agencies, and generally the websites will offer their own conclusions or summaries about the community.

The Murray Journal staff decided to test the conclusions of NeighborhoodScout by comparing them to Murray City’s interpretation of the crime reports. We asked Murray City spokeswoman Jennifer Heaps for Murray’s responses to the website’s claims. All data is based on the Utah Department of Public Safety’s 2016 “Crime in Utah” report.

Claim 1: “With a crime rate of 77 per 1,000 residents, Murray has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes—from the smallest towns to the very largest cities.”

Murray City: “This statistic is incorrect because it is based on residential population. Our population doubles during the day when people come to Murray to work, shop, obtain medical care, visit parks, etc.”

Other cities like Murray, such as Midvale and South Salt Lake, also argue that their populations nearly double during the day. These cities’ “daytime populations” are higher than their official “nighttime” resident population because of visitors working in or traveling through their cities.

Claim 2: “For Murray, we found that the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, across communities of all sizes (both large and small).”

Murray City: “If you obtain the ‘Crime in Utah’ 2016 report from BCI, it contains the correct statistics for crimes in Utah. The website you are referring to collects data by ZIP code and not jurisdictional boundaries and appears to be intended for real estate purposes. Again, this statistic is inaccurate, as it is based solely on the city’s residential population and not our actual daytime population. Because we are located in the center of the valley, we have a high number of commuters passing through, and we are a destination location for shopping and services.”

Claim 3: “… a lot of the crime that takes place in Murray is property crime.”

Murray City: “Vehicle burglary [considered a property crime] is a crime of opportunity. We see vehicle burglary in large retail shopping lots, apartment complexes and park-and-ride lots. Although we have our fair share of vehicle burglaries, they are primarily contained to large parking areas, and the ratio is probably similar to other neighboring communities when considering our daytime population.”

Claim 4: Murray has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle theft in the nation according to our analysis of FBI crime data.”

Murray City: “The ‘Crime in Utah’ 2016 report shows that Murray had 421 motor vehicle thefts, which is comparable to surrounding cities with a similar daytime population.”

For comparison, motor vehicle thefts in South Salt Lake, 379; Ogden, 368; Sandy, 244; and Salt Lake City, 1,963. Communities such as Midvale and Taylorsville fall under the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake, which reported 1,689 motor vehicle thefts in all UPD precincts.

As far as homelessness and whether Salt Lake City’s 2017 crackdown impacted Murray, City officials replied, “Our interactions with homeless people have increased since Operation Rio Grande. The ‘Crime in Utah’ 2017 report will provide better statistics on this particular issue. It’s too early to determine if these interactions have resulted in increased crime.”

The 2016 “Crime in Utah” report can be found online at https://bci.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2018/05/Crime-in-Utah-2016.pdf.