Crime rates in NEPA continue general decline

Aug. 6—WILKES-BARRE — Jill Avery-Stoss, Chief Operating Officer of The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, this week said despite fluctuation in some crime categories throughout the past decade, Northeastern Pennsylvania has generally become a safer place to live and work.

“Overall, there are fewer property crimes, violent crimes, and even juvenile arrests,” Avery-Stoss said.

Luzerne County’s total property crime figures entered the eighth year of decline in 2021 — a drop of 54% since 2012.

Lackawanna County’s total number of property crimes decreased by 59% in that same period, though motor vehicle thefts in the county grew to the highest level since 2017.

In Wayne County, burglaries and larceny-theft have experienced significant declines, producing a general drop of 64% since 2012.

Unlike the improvement trends in the three-county area of Northeast Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth saw a slight uptick in property crimes in 2021, ending a nine-year consecutive streak of declining property crimes and increasing by 1% from the prior year.

Nonetheless, property crime statewide remained far below levels seen prior to 2020.

“As of 2021, Luzerne County’s record of violent crimes showed a decrease of 12% from the prior year,” added Avery-Stoss. “They have reached the lowest level reported in the last decade.”

Except for the number of rape offenses that recorded an increase of eight, all other categories of violent crimes declined in the county from 2020, with a 16% decrease in the incidence of murder, 37% decline in robberies, and 9% decline in the number of aggravated assaults.

Lackawanna County experienced year-over-year increases in the number of violent crimes reported from 2013 to 2019, including a 31% increase in 2019 — the highest in the last decade.

Then in 2020, the total number of violent crimes decreased by 35%.

As of 2021, the total number of violent crimes in Lackawanna County had further declined to the point since 2015. This trend has been driven primarily by a decrease in aggravated assaults; at least a portion of these considerable year-over-year changes may result from adjustments to crime classifications.

Fewer violent crimes were also reported in Wayne County in 2021 — a decrease of 18% from 2020, and the lowest level reported in the last decade.

Except for the number of murders, of which none were recorded in 2020 or 2021, all other categories of violent crimes declined in the county since 2020.

There was also a decrease in violent crime across the Commonwealth in 2021 (for the second consecutive year). It declined by 2%, due to the drop of robbery and aggravated assault offenses.

The number of murders, however, increased by 12% from 2020. Overall, violent crimes statewide are 21% lower than the totals reported a decade ago.

“Finally, there has primarily been a downward trend in juvenile arrests since 2011 — reaching the lowest levels in more than a decade,” stated Avery-Stoss. “All three counties have seen declines of more than 64 percent compared with 2009, and the Commonwealth registered a 79% drop during that time.”

From 2020 to 2021, the number of juvenile arrests declined 16% in Luzerne County, 39% in Wayne County, and 8% in Lackawanna County. Statewide, juvenile arrests declined 7%.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

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