Is crime rising in Murray? It depends on who you askApr 13, 2021 01:49PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
In a recent survey, Murray residents indicated that increased police patrols would help reduce crime. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
Murrayites feel safe in their community but are alarmed by what they see as an increase in theft over the last three years. After numerous social media postings by Murray residents detailing robberies or grab-and-run burglaries, the Murray Journal wanted to know what Murrayites’ perceptions are about crime in the community.
Over 230 Murray residents and business owners responded to the survey. The majority felt that although the City has seen an increase in crime, they still feel relatively safe in their neighborhoods. What has definitely increased is the amount of awareness that Murrayites have regarding crime in their community.
The rise of technology includes all its attendant blessings and curses. And with the advent of social media, communication has become instantaneous, as has the community’s alertness when it comes to crime. Murray City Police, on occasion, will post pictures of people of interest in a local business robbery, looking for tips to find them. With many homeowners installing surveillance systems, residents post pictures of purported theft or suspicious people. In fact, a social media site has recently been created specifically for people to post information about crimes in Murray.
In the Murray Journal survey, the majority, 79% of respondents, were homeowners; others were renters or business owners, and some were employed in Murray but live somewhere else. Females made up the majority of those responding: 71%.
How serious do you feel the level of crime is in Murray? While there could be debate over what is meant by “seriousness,” the number of crime incidents is a concern, according to the survey. Over 62% of respondents rated the level as “Very Serious” and “Serious.” Interestingly, the majority of males, 56%, rated the level of crime as “Somewhat Serious” and “Not too” or “Not at all serious,” compared to 56% of females, who felt that crime was “Serious” or “Very Serious.”
Older respondents tended to rate the level of crime as “Very Serious”—31% of those age 66 or older saw it as very serious, while 0% of those between the ages of 18-24 gave that rating.
So, has the level of a crime gone up over the last three years? Well, nobody felt a decrease, with the overwhelming majoring, 85%, saying they saw an increase.
Websites have popped up displaying cities’ crime data and proclaiming the most dangerous cities in Utah. One website, RoadSnacks, run by a real estate marketer, issues a disclaimer that their lists are “an opinion based on facts and is meant as ‘infotainment.’” In their ranking, Murray is ranked third most dangerous, behind South Salt Lake and Salt Lake City. But the site doesn’t describe the metrics used to create their scale.
“We have never heard of the website RoadSnacks and cannot comment on the credibility of any articles they may produce,” Murray City Chief Communications Officer Jennifer Heaps said. “If they are basing their survey on crime stats found on the internet or through Crime Reports, they are likely incorrect, as they are usually separated by zip code and not city boundaries. For example, zip code 84117 covers part of Murray, Holladay and unincorporated Salt Lake County.”
With doorbell cams becoming increasingly ubiquitous and the amount of online ordering and consequent package deliveries going up, a unique social media situation has been created. Many residents now post doorbell cam footage of suspicious activity and porch thefts to a social media site, warning other neighbors of potential thefts. Our survey included a question about this. Since January 2020, how many of those surveyed were victims of package theft? Nearly 28% said they were victimized by porch pirates.
The survey also asked if residents had been the victim of a home burglary or break-in that was not a package or automobile theft since January 2020. Of all respondents, 13% indicated that they had been. Renters reported fewer package thefts and home burglaries, at 25% and 8%.
Kristin Reardon, Murray City Police Records supervisor and public information officer, indicates that police data show a decrease in the number of home burglaries between January 2020 and November 2020.
“As we reported back in November of 2020, our crime trends have changed due to the pandemic. There has been a decrease in residential burglaries and business burglaries, but an increase in vehicle burglaries and vehicle thefts. This trend is across Salt Lake County. Vehicle burglaries and vehicle theft increases may stem from more people out of work; they are opportunistic crimes. More people have been home during the pandemic, so residential burglaries have decreased,” Reardon said.
Not all package thefts get reported to the police. Whether a package was misdelivered or disappeared due to actual theft, 8% of the respondents say that “maybe” they were the victim of package theft. In some package theft cases, the buyer and the shipper resolve the missing package case without contacting law enforcement.
“Because more people have been ordering more items from home and having them delivered, this may be occurring more as it is a crime of opportunity, and this is occurring in every jurisdiction. This is a countywide crime trend,” Reardon said.
What about automobile thefts and break-ins? Nearly 26% of respondents reported that since January 2020 they were a victim. Almost 48% of all renters reported that their vehicle had been burglarized. As with most apartment complexes, most renters do not have access to a garage and automobiles are left exposed to the elements and criminal activity.
One potential deterrent for these types of crimes is the formation of a neighborhood crime watch. The vast majority of respondents, 45%, indicated, “We do not have a neighborhood crime watch,” while only 18.5% responded that they do belong to one.
“It is not uncommon to see more crime where there are more people. The City has helped set up neighborhood watch programs in apartment complexes, although this needs to be requested by either the apartment complex or a group of residents/neighbors. The City does not recruit residents to participate in neighborhood watch programs,” Heaps said.
“There are neighborhood watch opportunities. To get involved, residents should contact the Community Resource Division in the police department,” Reardon said.
Respondents (66%) believe that the amount of police protection has remained relatively constant over the last three years. Heaps confirmed that there had not been an increase in the number of officers hired over the past three years. Nearly 78% of respondents feel that there is a need for more police patrols in the City.
Do you feel safe going out at night in Murray? The majority reports yes, they do, with nearly 59% reporting that they feel safe and almost 5% feeling “Very Safe.” When broken down by gender, nearly 79% of men feel safe, while 55% percent of women reported the same. As far as violent crimes, only 2% thought it was more of a community problem, while nearly 10% felt it was a mix of property and violent crime.
As for buying a gun for protection from crime, nearly 35% of those polled indicate that they have purchased one. A male is 46% percent more likely to have bought one versus 35% of females. A majority of Murray residents (70%) have a security system, camera, or other monitoring equipment as a deterrent against crime.
Finally, according to respondents, who is committing more of the crime, juveniles or adults? The majority (51.5%) of those polled think it’s an even split, while 40% believe adults are the offenders most of the time.
The survey results can be found online at MurrayJournal.com.