Tulsa’s crime statistics are a mixed bag in 2018, with several categories falling but others rising, according to an analysis of city’s latest crime numbers.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released its Uniform Crime Reports detailing national and local data on crime. Although the Tulsa metro area, which includes Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers, Tulsa, and Wagoner counties, saw its violent crime rate largely stay the same, multiple categories including homicide, robbery and burglary fell from 2017.
Of note is that Tulsa saw 774 fewer burglaries, a drop of about 14%. Sgt. Tim Means, who heads Tulsa Police Department’s burglary unit, said a number of factors could go into that drop, from the economy to addiction.
“It could be that more people are working so they’re not out stealing,” Means said. “It could be better health services for people that have an addiction problem. ... It could be people are not doing it as much because of the fact more and more people are getting caught thanks to cameras, cellphones and all that stuff that’s available nowadays.
“There’s some people who would be habitual offenders and they do it once or twice, but then end up getting caught and never do it again.”
Based on Tulsa area’s population, the burglary rate per 100,000 people is 727.8, down from 840.5 in 2017. But Tulsa’s rate is similar to the national average in 2008 and well above the 2018 rate of 376.
Tulsa didn’t fall in every category, logging 235 more aggravated assaults nearly 800 more larcenies.
Numbers for property crimes and rape remained largely unchanged.
But the city did see 201 fewer car thefts. Sgt. Glenn Moore, head of the department’s auto theft unit, said there’s more to it than great police work.
Not only has the department arrested a few serial car thieves, but the market also plays a role.
“I can’t tell you what the price of steel is right now, but that typically has a pretty good bearing on the number of thefts,” Moore said. “A lot of the older vehicle thefts, what they do is steal them and go crush ‘em. Based on the weight of the vehicle, they get a certain price.
“When the price of steel goes up, they can make more money and they’ll take older vehicles up there because if a vehicle is older than 10 years, it doesn’t have to have a title to be sold, just a bill of sale. Some of those crushers as we call them don’t ask a whole lot of questions.”
Although steel prices began 2018 on a high mark and rose significantly when the United States issued tariffs that March, prices started falling midway through the year, according to a report from The Fabricator, a metals industry publication.
Tulsa had 10 fewer homicides in 2018, but it’s rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter puts the city in interesting company.
With 7.9 non-negligent homicides per 100,000 people, Tulsa sits just above the Las Vegas, Dayton, Ohio, and Wichita, Kansas metro areas. The Detroit, Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida, metro areas had an 8.0 rate in 2018.