You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 6:40 a.m.

Violent crime reported to the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department spikes; property crime up in Ann Arbor, FBI data shows

By Lee Higgins

Violent crime reported to the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department jumped 59 percent in 2008 and property crime increased 8 percent, bucking a national trend that saw violent and property crimes dip slightly, FBI data shows.

In Ann Arbor, violent crime dropped roughly 1 percent, but property crime was up 12 percent compared to 2007, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report released Monday.

Driving the violent crime increase in sheriff's department territory was a 110 percent jump in aggravated assaults, bringing the total to 351.


The FBI data does not include countywide totals; it offers reports from the sheriff's department and Ann Arbor. The sheriff's department patrols several villages and townships in the county, including Ypsilanti Township, Superior Township, Scio Township, Ann Arbor Township, Dexter and Manchester.

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton and Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones both pointed to the lagging economy as a contributing factor.

Clayton said he's concerned about police coverage after state troopers were cut during the summer, including five from the Ypsilanti post.

“If you take officers off the street, you run the risk of an increase in some crimes,” he said.

Driving the property crime in Ann Arbor is a 13 percent spike in larcenies and 8 percent increase in burglaries. Motor vehicle thefts are down 8 percent.

People have lost homes, jobs and status, and some are becoming desperate, Jones said. At the same time, iPods, laptops and GPS units that are stolen are often left in plain view in unlocked cars, he said. 

Jones said he's concerned about every statistic. “Each one of those statistics indicates that somebody has been victimized,” he said.


The sheriff’s department is working to identify hotspots of criminal activity and step up enforcement and community partnerships in those areas, said Clayton, who took office in January.

In some cases, deputies have already targeted trouble spots. For instance, on MacArthur Boulevard in Superior Township, they stepped up patrols, started programs for youths and worked with housing complex managers to enforce the rules, he said.

“Any increase in crime concerns me,” said Clayton. “Obviously, one of our primary focuses is public safety and improved quality of life in our community.”

There were 109 robberies reported to the sheriff's department, up 18 from a year earlier. The number in the city remained steady at 66.

The sheriff's department investigated five murders in each of the past two years; no homicides occurred in the city.

While there were 10 more forcible rapes reported to the sheriff's department in 2008, there were two fewer in the city.

The number of arsons increased by 12 for the sheriff's department and decreased by two in the city.

While aggravated assaults jumped in the county numbers, there were five fewer in the city than 2007.

Other county sheriff's department numbers include a 22 percent increase in burglaries, 9 percent increase in larcenies and 28 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts.

While property crime is up in the city, Jones said arsons and aggravated assaults have been declining over the past four years.

In relation to cities similar in size to Ann Arbor, there was a 5 percent decrease in property crime in Flint and 3 percent increase in Lansing.

Nationally, violent crime was down about 2 percent, and property crime dropped about 1 percent, according to the FBI.

On Saturday, Jones, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, and Miller Manor-area residents are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. at Miller Manor to discuss a string of break-ins and how to prevent crime.

Jones is encouraging people to call police anytime the hair is standing up on the back of their neck because they sense something is wrong or out of place.

Hieftje came under scrutiny this week by a local blogger after he wrote to a resident whose home was burglarized, indicating crime continues on a long-term downward trend.

Hieftje said Tuesday he was referring to a general decline in crime since 2000. He also said from Jan. 1 to June 30 of this year, compared to the same period last year, property crime is down 5.7 percent in the city, preliminary police data shows.

He’s confident police will continue to cut down on property crime and is interested to hear what residents have to say at the meeting.

“I just want to be there and see what’s going on,” he said. “I will be happy to respond to anything someone asks me.”

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for Reach him at or 734-623-2527.


Tim R. Land

Fri, Sep 18, 2009 : 8:27 a.m.

djm: I am not blaming the victim. The point, as stated, was to not make yourself a victim by putting yourself in an situation that could create an undesirable outcome. Predators are in every city, regardless of size or number of police officers on patrol. We need to exercise caution and accept the responsibility that our actions have reactions - of which may have undesirable consequences. #4 was a raw sentence designed to cause a knee-jerk reaction because it is an important topic (especially in a college town) to discuss and remember when we are all out this fall tailgating/enjoying bonfires - anywhere where libations may be consumed in excess.


Thu, Sep 17, 2009 : 11:57 a.m.

Tim your #4 tantamount to victim blame? No matter how drunk anyone is not an open invitation to be assaulted.


Thu, Sep 17, 2009 : 11:41 a.m.

The real story here is that violent crime is down in A2 despite the huge increase all around them. Property crime went up but it is headed back down. The AAPD is on top of this. The sheriff's have a tough situation to deal with. Ypsi Twps. needs to get their own police department.


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 9:45 p.m.

It might help to have a few definitions here, or a link to a previous story or website that provides them. For example, "violent crime" may be some kind of "other" category, but it looks to me like many of the lines above it are crimes that involve violence. Another: how does larceny theft differ from robbery, burglary, and property crime? Nice charts, BTW. Except for the missing definitions, they tell the story pretty well. Also, a bit more context would make this article better. I do appreciate the City/County comparison. However, how does all this compare to the rest of MI, or just SE MI? How do the changes in AA compare to someplace like Madison, WI? So is this change in crime a Michigan issue, a midwest issue, or a national change? Are other similar college towns having the same problems? Of course, the real question is where does it go from here? We can't get an answer to that, but a related question might be what happened in the early 80s? That seems like the last time the Michigan economy was this bad. It might not be too hard to find statistics on crime in AA and Washtenaw County in the early 80s.


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 6:16 p.m.

Sherry, what you and your neighbors are doing is called neighborhood watch....and yes it does help the cops when people call and report stuff. It is not a priority run it may take time for a deputy to respond....especially when your township like other townships keep cutting the number of Officers working the road. With as little amount of people working out in Scio they are over worked and do give their best at handeling all runs as they should might have caught someone on a bad day. Buy a house, condo, or some land and help with the tax base for more firefighters or your own police force (which is more expensive than contracting). As we all know the State is not in a good place right now and it only falls downhill...Less money to the counties lower level governments, means less services that will be provided.

Tim R. Land

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 5:35 p.m.

It is silly to believe that parking is not an issue in a city that is growing. Michigan Stadium is estimated to hold over 110,000 people when finished and there are fewer than 10,000 legitimate parking spaces in the downtown area. If you go to the DDA's website you can count that in the lots and structures there are just over 5100 parking spaces, not including metered parking. In addition to alleviating the parking crunch on game days, our city hosts a number of other events. For example, the Art Fair, residents fight tooth and nail for a parking spot near their house during Art Fair because there is simple not enough parking! Don't you think that a parking structure would take some pressure off of the surrounding neighborhoods? I do. I personally, know people who leave town during Art Fair because their neighborhood turns into a parking nightmare and the traffic makes it dangerous for their kids to play outside. Also, you realize that a city budget is not like your household budget? You can't just move money from pile A to pile B. If that's how government worked you would be complaining about the lack of checks and balances. I think that the projects that are currently underway are needed. Antiquated resources like the Larkin Building, aka City Hall, are being dealt with in a reasonable fashion. If you have ever been inside of that building, you realize that it is a big piece of junk and you feel bad for the people that have to work in it. Yes, the Bridges of Death (2009 Tim R. Land) need to be replaced. But my personal problem with this city were everyone gets a say in the design of a bridge is a major factor in it taking so darn long to design. If you ask me I say that the Bridges of Death should be closed immediately to all traffic. That might prompt our local major university to cough up some dough as soon as a major donor is inconvenienced. Also, if you paid attention at the August City Council meeting you would know that our mayor and commissioners are hard at work trying to get Federal funding to help subsidize the cost of the bridges. I think that is very prudent of them to go after free money instead of socking it to the people. Argo Dam is a moot point since the main argument to keep it is for recreational use. It was recommended under intensive study by the DNR and the Huron River Watershed Council that it should be removed. They are not stake holders in the surrounding land that is owned by the city and therefore the science and nature says it should go. I'm sure that Federal or State monies could be utilized in the deconstruction of the dam. Sure it sucks that as stated in the above article that several State police officers have been let go, but I would say that is a State budget concern and not a City of Ann Arbor concern. In addition, the article from July 23, 2009, that reviews the downsizing of the department, actually says that NO patrol officers were lost. We have the same exact number of police on the streets as before. Thank you again Ann Arbor Police, you are doing a fine job. And to address your disgust with comment #4. I have many degrees from many different universities and at every single orientation I have ever attended there has been a campus safety talk. In every single campus safety talk, there has been a discussion directed especially towards the women. This topic being: Watch the amount of alcohol you consume do not get stupid drunk, this type of behavior makes you a target for rape. Its a simple fact and if you are disgusted by the facts then you must live in an awfully sheltered world. I would never want for anyone to be raped, therefore, it is always good to have a reminder of the type(s) of behavior that can get us into trouble.


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 3:26 p.m.

Tim, I would say that your argument only works up to a point. Yes, city projects put people to work, and keep money flowing through our economy (which of course comes back out of our local economy to fund). Still, of course we cannot decide to spend our whole budget on development with the argument that we could pay for it by eliminating our police force, since there would be no more crime. The key here that people are arguing is that there has to be a balance. When the amount of funding for new construction projects starts to effect the amount of police officers we can staff, and does not of course eliminate a proportional amount of crime, that's a problem. I think it's also understandable to object to disproportionally expensive projects like the underground parking garage when it's not going to add that many spaces, and though it's a great idea, it doesn't have to be done right now, and definitely should not take funding from other more necessary programs. Even if the police and fire departments don't require any more funding than they currently have (which I understand they do), I feel the money going to new city hall, parking garages, and lord knows what else, should first be invested in maintaining what we already have. There's Stadium bridge (and probably many others that need work), our roads are in terrible disrepair, our whole water system is long overdue for quite an overhaul, we're going to have to sink a half a million in to Argo dam by the time all the studies and work is done. The city can still spend money and put people to work in construction and engineering, but we should be maintaining and repairing the existing structure and infrastructure before we go expanding and enhancing it. And again, I do not think you can justify the downsizing of emergency services like police, by arguing that the improvements on the economy from construction work will amount to less need for these services. And comment #4 was completely uncalled for, and honestly quite cold and repulsive in my opinion.

Tim R. Land

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 2:16 p.m.

FYI - The improvement projects that everyone is complaining about, are actually putting people to work. They are providing GOOD jobs for people, providing food for their families, and keeping them off of government aid. You all would be complaining that your tax dollars are just being sucked into the welfare and unemployment subsidy system if the unemployment rate went up a few more points by the City backing out of these contracts, forcing the workers employers to lay them all off. Why are you all complaining about City improvement projects that are more than likely being funded in a manner that would not allocate for those funds to be used in another manner? Why is there a parking structure being built?! Why? Because your Hometown University decided that they needed to have the most obscene football stadium in the Country and they do not have the parking capacity available for those people. Those people by the way contribute significant amounts of money to the local economy when they come into town. This means that they also provide jobs to many people. So, please get over this complaint of a parking garage seriously! Its time to look at the big picture and understand that projects like these have undergone in-depth study and analysis to ensure their viability in the community. Having actually lived in cities, other than Ann Arbor, I can say that by taking into account that this is a town that has a major university in it, which makes this an inherently a transient community, I think the statistics are well within reason. We cant expect a large town like Ann Arbor to be Mayberry. As in any city, you need to use your head and not let yourself become a victim. 1.Lock your car doors and keep valuables out of view. 2.Lock your windows when youre not home. 3.Do not go running outside in the dark alone. 4.Do not get crazy drunk and allow yourself to be a rape target. 5.Get to know your neighbors and look out for each other. 6.Do not talk on a cell phone while at the ATM. 7.Keep you flashy goods to yourself (i.e., I-Pods, fancy handbags, cell phones, cash, etcWhy dont you just paint a giant target on you?) 8.Tie your shoes. 9.Park in well lit areas. 10.Remember safety in numbers! (Didnt we all learn this in kindergarten?) Thank you Ann Arbor Police for doing the best that you can! We all appreciate it.


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 12:43 p.m.

Alan,I certainly see the reasoning for you argument(s), and on the whole, I guess I'd have to say I agree with you here. I don't know if he feels any obligations or social ties which keep him from voicing his opinion openly on this topic, but Richard Kinsey, if you're out there I'd be very interested to hear your opinions on the downsizing of the police force, and how you feel it may effect their ability to sufficiently serve the community, or even if you feel it may be in any way contributing to recent crime levels. Hot button issue for someone so close to the people in charge, I know, but I think your opinion would be very valuable to hear.


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 11:57 a.m.

I also agree with David Wallner and do we really have the correct numbers on these crimes or is this also downplayed like most of the crime is. I now live in Scio Township and We have a Sub. Station 7 that is empty, rarely used. I called the Sub Station and was shocked I got someone at the other end of the phone. I called to report a neighbor who was stalking me and has been for over a year. She and her husband both stalk our Postperson and myself and have all kinds of video taping 24/7 at my house and the road so they know who goes down the road at any given moment, also have mics set up to hear private conversations and they are under Federal Investigation now. Anyways, the stuff they have set up is not for protection but to watch all the neighbors. To be snoops and that is all. Myself and another neighbor have been threatened by this woman that she was going to put her attack dog on us and thankfully the day she followed me, I was out taking pictures and she then threatened me out of the blue and I reported it to this Deputy who was at the Station at the time on Zeeb Rd. and told him what had happened and he told me that I was violating her first Amendment rights to say what she wanted! I even have a picture of her with her dog which is a trained attack dog and I am being threatened walking down my road and I violated her rights? Try living in Scio. We have no police that are honest. Nor do they respond to calls where I live and I have been told by another Deputy from the Zeeb Rd., sub station that they do indeed respond to the rich areas first. That is what they are to do. I was told and a neighbor of mine that went to the Sub Station by a high ranking officer "that if you want to commit a crime due it in Washtenaw County because you will not be caught". He was telling us the truth, and we pay for these officers who tell us that we are infridging on a sick woman's rights when she has threatened us with her dog and her and her husband have tried to hit us with their car and then go home and laugh about it. I have photos of that also. So, I know that crime has gone up in Ann Arbor and I know first hand about the crime here in Scio. Ann Arbor does need more officers on the streets and they need more firefighters as well to protect the citizens. We need our own Police Force in Scio and get rid of the County Sheriff's Department. The ones here are corrupt but the County will do nothing about the complaints. We are no longer calling them for help, the neighbors (all but 2) have already set a plan in motion to help each other in a safe manner. But, when it comes down to it, it will take what it takes. There is so much more I could say but I have said enough and I appreciate it if you read this. We need more Firefighters badly and we need to get rid of the County. We do not have a Mayor, we have a board of Trustees that are liars and cheats. We need a complete overhaul here in Scio. I feel badly for both Ann Arbor and Scio. I was born and raised in A2 and lived there until 12 yrs. ago when we moved to Scio. Come and rent a place that is not rich and see what I am saying and allot of others are saying are true.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 11:01 a.m.

AMlive, Lots of what you say makes sense, but whether it was intentional or just uninformed, the Mayor wasn't showing any leadership when people were brining the increase in crime to his attention. He didn't say he'd check into it, he said there wasn't an 'uptick' and maybe if you go back to the end of the last century...It was dishonest, regardless of his motivations. It is both issues--the economy AND the cutback in police while we spend money on cute German chic water gardens that got us to this point. Guessing that kind of leadership isn't going to help the city at this point. And the comments from the Police Chief aren't very comforting either.

Theresa Taylor

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 9:10 a.m.

I hear you, David Wallner. Material items are one thing, but the attacks on female joggers has climbed and yes, the local rape statistics are disturbing.


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 8:28 a.m.

Alan, as I said, I'm not standing up for the Mayor, but it's helpful to hear the explanation of how he arrived at his conclusion of "no significant up-tick" in crime from the statistics. Of course statistics can be cherry picked. That's why I said in a previous post (following the original A2Politico blog link/article) -"As to the actual numbers, it's tough to say how meaningful they really are, or in what context the Mayor looked at them. Compare the whole of 2007 to 2008, and you see one thing. Look at the first half of 2009 to that period of 2008, or put it in the context of a 20 year chart and you may see another. Draw a per capita comparison and you can get something entirely different. Pick different combinations of burglary, robbery, vehicle theft, assaults, etc, and there are all sorts of conclusions you could probably support." Thanks to the research and article that Lee here followed through on, it seems the Mayor was reading statistics almost exactly as some of the ways I mentioned - the first half of this year to the same period of last, along with a look at a 10 year trend. Though that analysis may be arguably incomplete, and quite possibly even wrongly dismissing a noteworthy up-tick in a 3-5 year trend as an isolated or anomalous bump, I don't think it fully qualifies as cherry picking. Having said that, I do still feel there is a rising crime trend that has coincided with the more recent economic trends, and perhaps even correlating with the drop our police force numbers. I may even suggest that the Mayor would do better to look at a 3-5 year trends to get a more realistic view of where we're heading, as what was happening 5-10 years ago was part of an imaginary fairy tale land of unsustainable growth and prosperity, and should not be taken as a reliable indicator to forecast future issues. So largely I think we're in agreement that the police force and other necessary services can not afford to be put on the back shelf right now when planning the budget, and that maintenance of existing systems and structures should hold priority over construction or enhancement of new ones. I think the current approach is perhaps overoptimistic, gambling away our resources that should be going toward current safety and infrastructure, instead on new city projects which are arguably unnecessary, but done in hope of encouraging growth in the future. I think you could argue that gamble as perhaps reckless or irresponsible, but I just don't go so far as to say the Mayor is being dishonest or intentionally misleading.


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 7:23 a.m.

I'm curious about the statistics from communities that declined to pay for full coverage by the county sheriff....

David Wallner

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 7:09 a.m.

Regardless of the trends, I am troubled to see the number of forcible rapes, violent crime and aggravated assult. It's one thing to have someone take your stuff but quite another to be a victim of these personal assults. Especially rape.

Bob Heinold

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 6:23 a.m.

Call anytime the hair raises on your neck, said Jones. When I called in about two men casing a house early in the morning, the desk officer did everything to downplay the situation even though I gave physical descriptions, behavior descriptions, and exact location. Also, at a public meeting a citizen a an officer why the attempted breakin at her house was not reported in the News. The officer said that many events are a matter of interpretation. Good luck reporting something, folks!

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 5:19 a.m.

"Hieftje came under scrutiny this week by a local blogger after he wrote to a resident whose home was burglarized, indicating crime continues on a long-term downward trend. Hieftje said today he was referring to a general decline in crime since 2000. He also said from Jan. 1 to June 30 of this year, compared to the same period last year, property crime is down 5.7 percent in the city, preliminary police data shows." So basicly, the Mayor was cherry picking the statistics to cover up his mismanagement of the city. And AMLive, I can pick any timeframe I want to prove my point. The Mayor, instead of looking at the facts, was just covering up a potential crisis in his email about the non-'uptick' in crime. Oh, from May 6th to June 17, crime was DOWN 9000%? Duh. "Jones is encouraging people to call police anytime the hair is standing up on the back of their neck because they sense something is wrong or out of place." Brilliant! What about the lack of political leadership in this city? That is making my hair stand on the back of my neck. Did the police chief REALLY say that?? Guess Council was busy checking out Facebook during meetings while cutting police staff.


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 12:16 a.m.

AMLIVE, I totally agree with you, I love for researching what we ask! I also agree on your thoughts on budgets! Well Said!


Wed, Sep 16, 2009 : 12:01 a.m.

I just have to say, this thing is great - it's like having an online city librarian. You want to know something, ask, they research, and out comes an article. I got a tad bit frustrated with the Ann Arbor News on occasion, but I think I'm warming up to this format.


Tue, Sep 15, 2009 : 11:54 p.m.

What'd I say folks - ask and ye shall receive. Here's the follow up article that they've probably been working on since they published the brief summary of the A2Politico blog writing on this a day or two ago. All the info everyone was ranting and speculating about, including an interview and legitimate explanation from the Mayor of his statements (not that I'm standing up for him, but it's good to at least hear where he got his statistics from).Thanks Lee - very good and relevant information put forth there.I'd still like to see the city government put more focus on maintaining the most necessary services. I know budgets can be structured awful weird, in where money comes from for roads, bridges, police and emergency, and how city income and millage taxes may be alloted to certain services. I know there's a lot I don't know about how these things work. Still, I have to say it's frustrating when it seems like the city is spending money on city buildings, new parking structures, and things other than the absolute necessities when we are obviously in a bit of a financial pinch. I know these are beneficial and necessary long term investments, but when income is down, and crime is arguably up, it seems like some of these investments can wait, and we could put maintaining an appropriate number of officers on the street above building an underground parking garage.


Tue, Sep 15, 2009 : 11:31 p.m.

Well I guess that's the upside to not having modern technology in my vehicle. I do not have an MP3, or GPS in my vehicle. Instead I bought a used vehicle, it has a factory stereo with a CD/Cassette player. I don't have to worry about anyone stealing that!