Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla provided the City Council with the 2023 crime stats compared to 2022. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Police

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla provided the City Council with the 2023 crime stats compared to 2022. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Police

Kent 2023 crime numbers higher in four categories, lower in four others

Homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies and vehicle thefts increase compared to 2022

Kent crime numbers were up in four categories and down in four others in 2023 compared to 2022.

The number of homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies and vehicle thefts increased. The number of residential burglaries, commercial burglaries, vehicle prowls and shootings decreased.

“It’s a little bit better than last year (2022), but it’s still not good,” said Police Chief Rafael Padilla during his Public Safety Report Jan. 16 to the City Council. “We’ve made some improvement, but we have a ways to go.”

There were 13 homicides that were shootings in 2023 compared to eight in 2o22, a jump of 62.5%. Padilla said the city had a total of 19 homicides when including other methods besides guns, such as vehicular homicides, a beating and a couple of other deaths.

Kent had 248 robberies in 2023 compared to 196 in 2022, a jump of 26%.

“That bothers me because a lot robberies can turn violent quickly,” said Padilla, who added the number of youth offenders involved in such crimes also is high.

The number of aggravated assaults increased to 184 in 2023 from 157 in 2022, up 17%.

Vehicle thefts were the fourth category with an increase. The number of vehicle thefts hit 2,114 in 2023 compared to 1,814 in 2022, a hike of 16%.

“Vehicle thefts were up significantly,” Padilla said.

Crimes that dropped

Vehicle prowls, when someone takes items from a car but doesn’t take the vehicle, dropped from 1,508 in 2022 to 858 in 2023, a decrease of 43%.

There were 293 residential burglaries in 2022 compared to 217 in 2023, a drop of 26%. Commercial burglaries were at 916 in 2022 compared to 711 in 2023, a decrease of 22%.

“We made some progress in residential which is good,” Padilla said. “We’re trending low in commercial, but the ramming of a car into a building and stealing stuff continues to be a challenge.”

There were 169 shootings in 2022 compared to 159 in 2023, a drop of 6%.

“Shootings are still way high,” Padilla said. “The 159 is above our five-year norm, but lower than the previous two years.”

Shootings include homicides, injuries, property damage or shots fired that reportedly didn’t hit anyone or cause any property damage.

Kent had 166 shootings in 2021, 107 in 2020, 68 in 2019, 96 in 2018 and 119 in 2017. The number of homicides by shootings were 13 in 2023, 8 in 2022, 11 in 2021, 4 in 2020, 4 in 2019, 5 in 2018 and 9 in 2017, according to Kent Police crime stats.

Steps to take

Councilmember Satwinder Kaur asked Padilla what residents can do to help protect themselves when they see a crime happening with a weapon.

“My dad saw (a recent) bank robbery downtown and said, ‘I should’ve done something,’” Kaur said. “I said ‘no, stay away, you don’t know what he has.’”

Padilla agreed Kaur told her dad the right advice.

“My message is I really don’t want the community taking things into their own hands,” Padilla said. “There’s too much risk, especially with property. I’d rather see them get away with property.”

Padilla said call 911, like people did during the bank robbery. He said the suspect was caught because people were calling and telling 911 where the guy was which was dispatched to officers.

“Be a good witness, be specific about what you see,” Padilla said.

The chief also advised how to try to protect yourself while walking.

“I encourage people to be aware of your surroundings,” he said. “If you know something is not right, maneuver around it. And there’s safety in numbers in public.”

Padilla said it’s important to look up when walking.

“People are attached to their cellphone and not paying attention to what’s going on,” he said. “That speaks to the bad actors as a target of opportunity.”

As for protecting a residence, Padilla had a few tips.

“Make your home hard to get into,” he said. “Discourage thieves and burglars.”

Padilla said steps include good lighting around the house, bushes that are cut low so the house is easy to see and installing video cameras. He said nosy neighbors help, too.

And one final step?

“Calling 911 if things don’t look good,” Padilla said.

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