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Hollister part of 5-city crime study

Hollister’s top law enforcement official said a recent report
showing a 63-percent increase in robberies in the city during 2001
is not indicative of an overall rise in the crime rate.
Hollister’s top law enforcement official said a recent report showing a 63-percent increase in robberies in the city during 2001 is not indicative of an overall rise in the crime rate.

Comparing Hollister’s crime rate to the other cities’ is a matter of statistics, which can be skewed when looking at the abstract, said Hollister Chief of Police Bill Pierpoint.

“Gilroy had three homicides in 2001. We had six homicides because of domestic violence – which shows a dramatic increase, but that was an anomaly,” Pierpoint said. “We have had only one homicide so far this year. Unless in the next 15 days something happens, our crime rate has not dramatically increased.”

The report, by the Gilroy Police Department, compared crime in five area cities – Hollister, Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Salinas and Watsonville, as well as the state as a whole.

There were 31 robberies in Hollister in 2001, according to the report, compared to 13 in Gilroy, a 44-percent increase. Hollister also had more than 300 burglaries.

Salinas was the only city of the five in the report to have a decrease in robberies, though its robbery rate remained the highest of the five cities at 2.69 per 1,000 citizens.

Gilroy and Morgan Hill were the only cities of the five to experience a reduction in major crimes, which include homicide, forcible rape, robbery and burglary.

But without all the information, the numbers don’t mean much, Pierpoint said, because statistics can be deceiving when crime waves are considered.

“Our burglaries are not that high and we usually find the crime rate goes up in the summer months when all the kids are out of school,” he said.

Using Pacific Grove with its population of 15,000 as an example, Pierpoint said percentage-wise Pacific Grove’s crime rate is less than half that of Hollister.

“They had five rapes in 2001 compared to the six we had, but they had four robberies, which brings their numbers down low,” he said. “You can’t always look in the abstract. Hollister really doesn’t have a high crime rate, but nobody is going to like that (reading about 300 burglaries).”

Officials are pointing at the declining economy and the rise in unemployment for the increase in crime.

“It will be up, and it may be true with paper crimes,” Pierpoint said. “But these people who commit economic crimes, if they don’t have a job then they’re out there scamming to get your money if they’re not honest.”

Hollister’s unemployment rate in 2001 was 10.5 percent – higher than Gilroy’s, which jumped from 3.4 percent in 2000 to 7.4 percent in 2001.

Statewide, unemployment rose to 5.3 percent in 2001 from 4.9 percent in 2000.

As for the 2002 preliminary crime statistics released Monday by the Attorney General’s office, Pierpoint said, “How can they do that? I file my reports on the 15 of each month. They don’t have my last two months.”

Hollister’s crime report for December won’t be ready until Jan. 15, Pierpoint said.

According to the FBI Crime Index Report, the number of crimes nationwide increased by 2.1 percent in 2001, meaning there were 4,160 crimes per 100,000 population. The FBI also reported an 18-percent decline in the number of crimes committed compared to 10 years ago.