New numbers released by the FBI show violent crimes increased in Medford in 2008, but property crimes decreased across the board.

New numbers released by the FBI show violent crimes increased in Medford in 2008, but property crimes decreased across the board.

Violent crimes increased by 6.4 percent in Medford over 2007 figures, the statistics show. But property crimes fell by 11.9 percent during the same period.

Statewide, violent crime fell by 10.6 percent and property crimes by 6.9 percent.

Medford police reported an increase of forcible rape from 30 in 2007 to 44 in 2008.

Describing the increase as "significant," Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen said he was worried about the spike.

"Statewide there's something to brag about," he said. "But, unfortunately, that does not necessarily hold true in Jackson County."

Increased education toward victims of date-rape incidents, particularly those involving drugs, may have led to more victim reporting, he said.

But Schoen said he believes ever-increasing access to Internet violence and pornography has increased violent crimes against women and children.

"It goes hand in hand with assault," said Schoen. "And it's a trend I see continuing, I'm sorry to say."

Talent showed the most reduction in crime statistics of cities in Jackson County. Six of the eight violent and property crimes categories showed a decrease from the previous year. Violent crimes dropped from six cases in 2007 to three in 2008. And under property crimes, only burglary showed an upswing, going from 13 to 20 cases in the same span.

Talent Police Chief Mike Moran appreciates that the numbers reflect well upon his town and his officers. But Moran has been following crime statistics since 1991 and knows numbers can change because of a variety of reasons, including police staffing, he said.

"Sometimes you have an officer who is on a roll, and he's working a lot of new cases which unveils crimes," Moran said. "That's the result of good police work."

In any case with multiple offenses, only the most serious charge will be counted as a statistic under the FBI's Hierarchy Rule, he added.

Medford saw an across-the-board decrease in property crimes in 2008, which Schoen attributed to a similar decrease in drug crimes brought on by his department's emphasis on reducing drug activity in Medford.

"We felt that was the nexus. Drug activity decreased and so did property crimes," Schoen said.

But Schoen said during the first six months of 2009, his department has seen a 32 percent increase in drug-related cases. This year's early bump in the drug crimes will likely correspond to an increased bump in property crimes for the FBI's 2009 reporting, he said.

Schoen said the poor economy has some people turning to drugs in a misguided attempt to cope, while others are acting out their frustrations. Road rage incidents and crimes involving teenagers and young adults are on the rise, he said.

"We've also had a big increase in vandalism and disorderly conduct," Schoen said.

New programs that create cooperative reporting between the private sector and law enforcement have helped solve many property crimes in Talent, Moran said.

Pawnshops that place their wares in an online database where police agencies can view the goods has resulted in the return of stolen property, he said.

"It's a phenomenal tool," Moran said. "We had a series of burglaries and managed to recover several of the stolen property items."

On its Web site, the FBI warns media not to make too much of the annual statistics. Creating "safest city" lists based on the crime statistics alone can be misleading, the site says.

However, all things considered, Moran said he still thinks Jackson County is a good place to live.

"I believe the Rogue Valley is a very safe place to live compared to any major metropolitan area," Moran said.