Crime Drops 

Feeing safer downtown? Boise Police Department says crime rates in downtown have dropped by 14 percent since last year.

The drop in crime is nearly across the board, including a 50 percent drop in sexual assault other than rape; 33.3 percent drop in robbery; 34.3 percent drop in thefts from a vehicle; 37.5 percent drop in vehicle theft; a 76.2 percent drop in forgery; and a 65.2 percent decrease in weapons violations.

There was a 14 percent increase in residential burglary, and the murder rate remained steady at zero. Arson cases have jumped from no more than one in past years to seven in 2007.

City officials, including Police Chief Michael Masterson and Mayor Dave Bieter, credit the decrease in crime to a number of initiatives they say are designed to make the city less attractive for criminal activity. Among them were seemingly simple steps like increased street lighting in the core of Old Boise (no more skulking in the shadows).

The city's taxi ordinance moved taxis out of the busy Sixth and Main area and created designated pick-up and drop-off zones. Additionally, another city ordinance relocated food vendors from of the most congested areas of downtown, since, apparently, the temptation of food is enough to start fights among drunken revelers.

The city also amended its sidewalk cafe ordinance, allowing restaurants to serve on sidewalk patios until 2 a.m., but requiring that no drinks be served in glasses or glass bottles after midnight. Finally, police patrols via bicycle were added on busy nights.

Additional crimes on the decline in downtown include: rape, down 14.3 percent; aggravated assault, down 24.1 percent; commercial burglary, down 29.6 percent; and vandalism, down 5.1 percent.

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