Report: Auburn property crimes rose, arrests went down

Auburn police’s clearance rate dropped nearly 10%, the report says.

Compared to 2020, reports of murder and aggravated assault were down while property crime reports went up last year in Auburn, according to the Crime in Washington report published by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

In addition to this, Auburn police solved fewer crimes in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to data from the report.

Auburn Police Department’s “clearance rate,” or the percentage of cases in which an arrest was made, dropped by nearly 10% from 2020 to 2021.

In 2020, Auburn police made an arrest in 22.4% of their cases, and that number dropped to 12.8% in 2021.

It is worth noting that on July 25, 2021, several police reform laws took effect across the state of Washington. House Bill 1310 requires police to have probable cause a crime was committed prior to using force against them. This law is often pointed to as the cause for a decrease in arrests.

Kent, Federal Way and Renton police departments all had clearance rates higher than the Auburn Police Department in 2021. The three neighboring departments also saw decreases in their clearance rates from 2020 to 2021, however, none were as significant as Auburn’s 9.6% drop.

In 2021, there were 7,704 offenses reported and 804 arrests, and in 2020, those numbers were 7,834 offenses and 1,205 arrests.

Last year there were five murders in Auburn, compared to six in 2020, according to the Auburn Police Department. Of the five murders in 2022, arrests have been made in two of them, Auburn police spokesperson Kolby Crossley said.

Reports of aggravated assault also decreased from 198 in 2020 to 184 in 2021. Simple assault cases went up by less than one percent from 2020 to 2021.

Reports of rape went up from 32 reports in 2020 to 47 in 2021, which is equal to the number of rapes reported in 2019. According to the WASPC report, there were zero arrests made in connection to any of the 47 reported rapes.

It will come as no surprise to most Auburn residents that reports of property crimes including vehicle theft, burglary, destruction of property and larceny increased from 2020 to 2021.

The most reported property crime in 2021 was larceny with 2,367 reports, up 5% from 2020, despite the large number of reports, only 86 arrests were made for larceny offenses. Destruction of property was the second most popular property crime in 2021 with 1,470 reports, 66 of which resulted in an arrest, the WASPC shows.

Motor vehicle thefts rose 26% from 710 in 2020 to 895 in 2021. Auburn police made 11 arrests for motor vehicle theft in 2021, according to the WASPC report.

Mayor Nancy Backus recently made an impassioned speech about crime in downtown Auburn during a city council meeting on July 18, after community members raised safety concerns.

Backus said she is taking a zero-tolerance approach to the issue and has directed the police department to make arrests whenever possible.

“I have told Chief Caillier we will not be part of the problem,” Backus said. “If it’s an arrestable or a citable offense our officers will arrest and cite. King County prosecutors may not prosecute a case and the judges may dismiss a case, those are other issues that we need to deal with, but we will not be part of the problem”