DENVER (KDVR) — After a record year for Denver crime in 2020 and national violent crime wave, the numbers keep getting worse post-pandemic.
Crime rates spiked in 2020 in nearly every category. Motor vehicle theft was the most dramatic increase. There were 22,321 vehicle thefts in 2019 but 30,942 in 2020 – a 39% increase year over year. Violent crime categories surged in 2020 as well, increasing by 6.52% in 2020.
So far, 2021 is looking even worse.
The monthly totals of violent and property crimes have increased since last year’s monthly counts in every month except January.
In an interview with FOX31’s Dan Daru, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city’s recently begun initiative on crime will take time to take root.
“We just launched the program,” Hancock said. “It was May 24 when we launched it, today’s July 7. So we’ve got to allow time for the program to take its impact.”
Hancock said the city has begun to focus on the areas where violent crime is heaviest.
“We’ve already started partnering with organizations within these hot spot communities,” he said. “That is going to be very helpful to the police department but also to the overall community to help improve its safety. So, by no means do we stop our efforts. We’ve got to ramp up our efforts, keep following the strategy we deployed.”
Monthly violent crime – which includes homicide, aggravate assault, sexual assault and robbery – has increased an average 9%.
June saw the biggest jump in violent crime. Violent crimes increased 22% in June 2021 since last year.
Denver Police Department Chief Paul Pazen places part of the blame on repeat offenders.
“Many of the county jails reduced their population by half,” he said. “That had a significant impact on our ability to address the increase in property crime as well as violent crime. When you drill down and see who is committing these violent crimes, you see last year, 59% of our homicide suspects were previous felons. We need to work with our non profits to work to reduce recidivism.”
Property crimes rose even more than violent crimes did – an average 42% year-over-year.
The pandemic did coincide with an uptick in numbers, but violent crime has been steadily increasing over the last five years. Every year, the number of violent crimes in Denver has increase 5-10%, except a small downtick in 2019.
In 2020, the city saw rates of crime unseen since the 1980s and its highest-ever violent crime total of 4,766 aggravate assaults, sexual assaults, robberies and homicides.
May and June 2021 are up year over year, but neither has reached the violent crime totals of July, August or September 2020.
There was a much sharper spike in property crime. While property crime had already been going up since 2016, the jump in 2020 was a more dramatic 26% year-over-year.
In nearby Aurora, violent crime is following the same trend.
The first quarter of 2021 saw Aurora’s violent crime rise 50% over the same period last year.