Thursday, November 15, 2001

Scarborough’s a safe town, Cape is even safer

Published in the Current

Scarborough is the third-safest place in Maine, among towns and cities with populations greater than 10,000 people, according to the recently released FBI report, Crime in the United States 2000. It is one of only five towns or cities in Maine with a crime rate lower than the state’s overall rate.

Cape Elizabeth, with its population just below 10,000, had less crime than even the safest city.

The FBI analysis is based on reports from local law enforcement agencies, and indicates the number of serious crimes occurring in towns, cities, states and nationwide in 2000. Comparisons are possible between regions by calculating the crime index rate and the number of serious crimes in an area for each 1,000 inhabitants.

The FBI groups seven types of crimes into its crime index: murder and negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft
and motor vehicle theft. Larceny-theft is defined by law enforcement agencies as including shoplifting, pick-pocketing, thefts from motor vehicles, bicycle thefts and other thefts “in which no use of force, violence or fraud occurs.”

Maine, with a population of 1,274,923 in 2000, had 33,400 serious crimes, which is a crime index rate of 26.2 crimes per 1,000 residents, making it the fifth safest state in the country.

The national index was 41.24. North Dakota was the lowest with 22.88.

Scarborough’s 15,394 residents in the year 2000, had 284 crimes in town, a rate of 18.45. Nearly all were property crimes: 222 were larceny-theft, 39 were burglaries, 15 were motor vehicle thefts and one was a robbery. Regarding person-on-person crimes, there were seven aggravated assaults in 2000, but there were no murders, arsons or rapes reported to Scarborough police.

Police Chief Robert Moulton said Scarborough has tended to have a low crime rate, which he attributed to the staff of the police department. “We’ve got a lot of good people who are very committed to what we do,” he said.

Not only, he said, is community resource Officer Joe Giacomantonio being very successful at getting the word out about public safety programs, but the patrol officers are very visible on the streets of town and the detectives are excellent at catching lawbreakers when crimes occur.

“If they do come to Scarborough to do something bad,” Moulton said, “they’re going to get caught.”

Cape Elizabeth, with about 9,000 residents, does not have a large enough population to appear on the FBI report.

According to its 2000 records on file with the state, however, Cape has a crime rate of 15.15. Of the 140 serious crimes in town that year, 123 were larceny-thefts, 14 were burglaries, two were motor vehicle thefts and one was a rape. Two arsons were reported in town as well, but those are categorized separately in the Uniform Crime Report system.

Town Police Chief Neil Williams attributed the low incidence of crime in town to it being a residential area without many commercial buildings.

“We just don’t have much (crime), which is good, knock on wood,” Williams said.

The most dangerous town in Maine was Bangor, with a rate of 56.42. The safest town on the list was Orono with 16.02. Following Orono and just ahead of Scarborough was Gorham, with 17.88.

Maine compares favorably to nearby states. The state’s rate is 26.2 per 1,000, as contrasted with the national rate of 41.24. New Hampshire’s rate is 24.33. Vermont’s
is 29.87. Massachusetts’s rate is 30.26.