We are weeks away from the start of the new year, and many of us will use this time to reflect on our accomplishments and milestones and identify areas that could use some work. Although this type of reflection typically brings to mind changes in your career, finances, and health, it can also apply to your safety.
One of the best ways to improve your safety is learning about crime trends. To help you develop better safety habits in the coming year, we want to provide a recap of what crime looked like in Arizona and Maricopa County. Unfortunately, we can't predict when a crime will occur. Still, if we incorporate enough safety habits into our daily routines, we can help lessen the probability of it happening to our family or home.
While the pandemic might make it seems as if all crime increased over the last two years, the actual increase was seen in violent crime. Last year, the murder rate increased by 30%, and 77% of these murders involved gun violence. This trend continues as several major cities, including Tucson, have already broken homicide records set last year. In addition, aggravated assault, the most common of all violent crimes, also increased last year by 12%.
Earlier this year, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office also shared that domestic violence cases, particularly aggravated domestic violence, continued to follow last year's increase. As of October of this year, there have been 73 domestic violence-related deaths in Arizona.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, get confidential support from trained advocates online at www.thehotline.org or over the phone at 1-800-799-7233. You can also find support from local programs and shelters in Maricopa County.
On the other hand, property crime continues to follow a downward trajectory. According to the FBI's Crime Statistics, property crimes declined for the 18th consecutive year, decreasing 7.8% in 2020. Even though they are in decline, property crimes continue to make up most of all crimes committed in the country. In 2020 nearly 6.5 million crime reports and $17.5 billion were reported in losses.
While property crime is decreasing, vehicle theft is not, especially in the Western half of the U.S. Motor vehicle thefts were 13% higher in 2021 than in 2020, which saw the highest annual number of vehicles stolen since 2008. While Arizona's vehicle theft rates aren't the highest in the nation, it is located next to three states that are: California, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Vehicle theft also "looked" different this year. Due to supply chain issues in car manufacturing, the price of used vehicles increased by 30%, making them the new target for thieves. In Arizona, the 2004 Chevrolet pick-up was the model most targeted by thieves, followed by the 2006 Ford pick-up and the 2000 Honda Civic. On average, a stolen vehicle resulted in an average dollar loss of more than $9,000. When they weren't targeting your vehicle, thieves were looking to steal your catalytic converter, which costs at least $1,000 to replace.
In the last two years, tactics used by thieves have also changed. While constantly looking for new and sophisticated ways of stealing vehicles, thieves' tactics have recently been much more straightforward: looking for keys or fobs left inside the car. In addition, significant changes in driving habits have made drivers complacent about their vehicle safety. Use a layered approach to keep your vehicle in your driveway in 2022.
Scams and Fraud
Vehicles weren't the only thing stolen this 2021. Scammers were out in force this year, especially in Arizona. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Arizona was the third state with the most phone scam complaints in the country this year. Over half of the calls received in the state were automated. While most calls were, as expected, calls about warranty and protection plans, scammer also called state residents about solar and utilities, vacation and timeshares, computer support, and medication and medical insurance.
Scammers were also busy stealing personal information. The most common scam report was identity theft, followed by imposter and online shopping scams. Fraud, identity theft, and other scams reached a three-year high in the first quarter of this year, with a total of 1.7 million reported incidents.
In Arizona, there were a total of 84,657 reports of fraud and identity theft, with the average person losing at least $500. Compared to last year, younger people reported losing money to fraud more often than older people. However, when older people lost, it was at a much higher dollar amount.
Don't fall for scams next year. Instead, learn about the warning signs of common scams and keep your personal information safe by shredding any documents you no longer need.
Drug Use and Overdoses
In a recent news release by the Center for Disease Control, overdose deaths reached 100,306 for the first time in the U.S., marking a 28.5% increase from the year before. Over the last two years, overdose deaths have increased in Arizona, with 2020 reaching 1,982 deaths, a 45% increase from 2019. Maricopa County has the highest number of verified opioid overdoses in the state; from June 2017 to the present day, the county has had 13,521 overdoses. According to the CDC, over 50% of all drug overdoses have been caused by synthetic opioids, including fentanyl.
While every substance abuse case is different, having access to prescription medications at home increases the risk of developing or enhancing a substance abuse problem. So before your family comes to visit for the holidays, take time now to clean out your medicine cabinet. Once you do, bring your unused prescription medication to our Prescription Drug Take Back.
We hope the information presented here can help you prioritize your safety and help you make smarter decisions in the coming year.