Latah County recorded in 2019 its fewest reported criminal offenses in at least five years, according to the Idaho State Police Bureau of Criminal Identification’s annual “Crime in Idaho” report.

The 2019 report states 1,325 offenses were reported in the county — a 1.6 percent decline from 2018.

Moscow also experienced last year its fewest reported criminal offenses since at least 2015.

The report states 834 offenses were reported to the Moscow Police Department — a 2.5 percent decline from 2018.

MPD Chief James Fry said his department simply experiences more activity in some years than others.

“We just happened to hit a lower activity level (in 2019),” he said.

Of the 834 offenses in Moscow, 287 were larceny/theft offenses (333 in 2018), 124 were destruction of property (100 in 2018), 113 were simple assaults (104 in 2018) and 103 were drug/narcotic violations (85 in 2018).

Fry and Latah County Sheriff Richie Skiles said assaults, thefts and drug offenses are often related. For example, a person might steal to support a drug habit, Skiles said.

Fry said the Latah Recovery Center in Moscow and the crisis center next door to it have helped residents, and in turn, perhaps lowered crime.

“I think some people are trying to get better and get help and those that do, that’s where we’re seeing some of that difference,” Fry said.

The Latah County Sheriff’s Office recorded 491 reported offenses each in 2018 and 2019 — a decline from the 600 reported offenses in 2017.

“I guess I would say it’s good that they’re not increased,” Skiles said of the zero crime change from 2018 to 2019. “You usually like to see less crime each year but obviously with more and more people that move into the area you’re going to have a little bit more crime.”

The Latah County population, not including Moscow, was 14,639 in 2018 and it increased slightly to 14,672 in 2019, according to the Idaho State Police report.

Including Moscow, the county population grew from 39,978 in 2018 to 40,690 in 2019.

Of the 491 offenses in 2019, 119 were simple assaults (93 in 2018), 104 were fraud offenses (64 in 2018), 66 were larceny/theft offenses (85 in 2018) and 46 were drug/narcotic violations (46 in 2018).

Skiles was not surprised by the huge increase in fraud reports as they continue to be a problem this year.

He said people report several scams and frauds, including checking account frauds, mail scams and Internal Revenue Service phone scams — the latter occurring especially during tax season.

“Do not give your personal information out over the telephone,” Skiles said. “Do not give money out over the telephone.”

He said residents should double check with the sheriff’s office or IRS — if an IRS scam — to find out if he or she owes money.

Skiles said the IRS never asks for money over the phone. It sends a letter instead.

Visit nibrs.isp.idaho.gov/CrimeInIdaho for the full 2019 Crime in Idaho report.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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