COUNTY — During a year in which crime rates in Maine dropped by nearly 9 percent, Oxford County saw its lowest crime rate and lowest number of reported crimes in more than a decade.
The Maine Department of Public Safety and the Uniform Crime Reporting Unit, which asks county and state law enforcement agencies to voluntarily report their data on crime every year, said that overall crime in Maine declined by 8.7 percent in 2016. The crime rate is measured per 1,000 people.
Oxford County, whose agencies reported 1,218 crimes in 2016, saw its crime rate drop from 24.77 to 21.31.
Oxford County represented 5.1 percent of Maine’s crimes, down from 5.4 percent in 2015.
Over the last five years, Oxford County’s crime numbers have steadily decreased, culminating in a five-year low in 2016, its lowest number since 2003, when the county’s crime rate was documented at 19.75.
Despite the five-year low in Oxford County’s crime rate, the county still has the highest crime rate per 1,000 people of all 16 counties.
According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, the three agencies reporting the highest crime rates in their respective towns were Mexico with a crime rate of 68.34, Rumford at 43.39, and Oxford at 29.50.
All three towns had higher crime rates in 2015, with Oxford’s crime rate dropping by 22.71 over the last two years.
Mexico Police Chief Roy Hodsdon, who’s been on the job for two decades, blamed drugs for most of the crimes that take place in town.
The state crime report tallied seven rapes, two robberies, five aggravated assaults, 44 burglaries, 118 larcenies and one motor vehicle theft in Mexico last year.
Dixfield, with a crime rate of 15.43, Norway at 18.94, and Fryeburg at 10.93, all saw decreases in their crime rates from 2015 to 2016, while Paris’ crime rate, at 19.08, was slightly higher in 2016 than in 2015.
Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said that while the state’s crime numbers were down overall, some crimes, such as arson, aggravated assault and rape, saw increases statewide.
In Oxford County, while arson saw a jump from 11 incidents reported in 2015 to 14 incidents in 2016, the county saw a decrease in rapes reported – from 35 incidents in 2015 to 26 in 2016 – and aggravated assaults, down from 34 incidents in 2015 to 22 in 2016.
The number of robberies and motor vehicle thefts slightly increased in Oxford County, while burglaries and thefts were down overall.