Williston crime 5 percent of Chittenden County

Property crimes dominate

By Kim Howard
Observer staff

Williston had 5 percent of total crimes reported to law enforcement in Chittenden County in 2005, according to a report released last week.

The 474 reported crimes tallied in Williston for the 2005 Vermont Crime Report were largely property crimes including shoplifting, vandalism, larceny, burglary, and drugs/narcotics. Forty-five, or 10 percent, of the reports were crimes against people: simple assault led that list, followed by aggravated assault and intimidation. There was one report each of kidnapping, robbery, forcible rape and forcible fondling.

“Overall I think the violent crime in Williston is fairly level and at a fairly low rate,” Williston Police Chief Jim Dimmick said. “I think with our population that rises during the day, we have a lot of smaller property crimes.”

Williston came in seventh of 18 Chittenden County towns for crimes reported per 1,000 residents. Williston saw 57.64 crimes per 1,000 residents. Burlington was close to twice that rate. Underhill had the lowest crime rate of towns reporting crime (Buel’s Gore had zero reports). Overall, 9,960 crimes were logged for Chittenden County last year.

Dimmick said Williston records show reported crimes between 2004 and 2005 as static, though there appears to be a slight up tick in 2006 to date.

“We’re part of an emerging group of communities,” Dimmick said, giving as examples Williston, Colchester and Essex. These towns, he said, are getting more complicated with population and business growth.

Statewide, overall crime dropped between 1 and 3 percent last year, according to the report summary written by Vermont Criminal Information Center Director Max Schlueter. Homicides dropped from 11 reported victims in 2004 to eight victims in 2005, but the overall violent crime index – which includes homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery – increased by about 2.5 percent. The property crime index – composed of burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson – declined by 3 percent.

The report says Vermont’s figures are consistent with national data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that measured violent crimes up 2.5 percent and property crimes down 1.6 percent.

The report emphasizes that even in the new system, statistics compiled do not represent all crime that occurred in a given year, only crime that was reported to police or other enforcement officers. Some victims may not report crimes committed against them.

Still, the new Vermont Crime Online system can provide detailed data to towns, agencies and the general public who want to understand what’s going on in their areas, Vermont Criminal Information Center Deputy Director Bruce Parizo said.

“We hope it’s going to provide a service to other people to help them in governing their towns or communities,” Parizo said.

Dimmick advises residents and workers to take precautions like not walking alone at night. Just because Williston’s violent crime numbers are comparatively low should not lull people into believing this is an “all safe” community, he said.

“There are not walls around each town,” Dimmick said. “The crimes that occur in Burlington could just as easily have happened here.”

“Although we have a lot to be proud of as far as being a safe community,” Dimmick continued, “overall when you look at the county globally, we should take precautions and continue to be vigilant.”