Crime down in 2020, but some violence increased

Crime down in 2020, but some violence increased

PAWTUCKET – Crime in Pawtucket was down by 8 percent in 2020, though violent crimes were up in a number of categories.

Total crimes in the city last year were 3,913, compared to 4,242 crimes in 2019. The 2019 numbers were also a drop from 2018, when there were 4,716 incidents. The 3,913 crimes occurring in 2020 represented a decline of 1,640 crimes from the 5,553 crimes committed in 2010, or about 30 percent overall from a decade ago.

“The safety and well-being of our residents is a top priority for the Pawtucket Police Department,” said Chief Tina Goncalves, pictured. “As the data shows, crime in our community has continued to decline over the last 10 years.”

That said, “one crime in our neighborhoods is one too many crimes,” said Goncalves, “and the Pawtucket Police Department continues to work alongside all of our community partners to minimize the risk of crimes and increase the safety of our diverse community.”

In keeping with a trend seen elsewhere, murder cases were up, from one in 2019 and zero the year before to four in 2020, and kidnappings increased from eight in 2019 to 12 in 2020. Weapon law violations nearly doubled from year to year, with 57 in 2019 and 111 in 2020.

But rape cases were down from 50 in 2019 to 40 in 2020, and forceful sodomy crimes decreased from seven two years ago to one in 2020. Fondling cases were down, from 24 to 19.

Documented aggravated assaults were up, from 190 to 208, but simple assaults saw a significant decrease in 2020, from 823 in 2019 to 614 last year. Simple assaults have shown declines in many communities due to fewer people patronizing bars during the pandemic.

Drug/narcotics violations were down slightly, from 165 two years ago to 156 last year. Those are down sharply from 10 years ago, when there were 358 in 2010.

Assault/intimidation incidents were up last year, from 28 to 54, and extortion/blackmail was up one, from four to five. Total arson cases remained the same, with 13 each year.

Burglary/breaking and entering cases saw a sharp drop-off last year, from 322 in 2019 to 219 in 2020, or nearly 32 percent overall. Those trends elsewhere have been attributed in part to more people spending more time at home in the pandemic.

A number of larceny categories saw decreases in total numbers including: pocket-picking, from four incidents to one incident; shoplifting, from 135 to 126; and larceny from a building, 212 to 135.

But larceny of affixed motor vehicle parts/accessories shot up, from 278 in 2019 to 304 last year.

Larceny from a motor vehicle remained about the same, from 270 cases to 272 cases, and “all other” larcenies were down, from 256 in 2019 to 239 last year. Motor vehicle thefts were up 18 percent, from 181 to 220.

More people being at home also seems to have an effect on the category of vandalism, where there were 629 cases in 2019 and 598 cases last year, or a drop of 5 percent.


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The category of fraud/false pretenses went from 154 in 2019 to 184 last year, while credit card fraud went from 88 cases to 85 cases. Impersonation cases went from one to two, wire fraud went from one to two, and identity theft cases increased slightly, from 73 cases to 77 cases. Counterfeiting/forgery cases were down sharply, from 75 in 2019 to 40 last year, according to the statistics provided by the department.

Embezzlement cases stayed about even, from eight to seven, as did stolen property offenses, from 105 in 2019 to 103 last year.

Non-force statutory and incest sex offenses were down from five to four year-over-year, while pornography/obscene material charges increased from eight to 11 cases. Prostitution cases across three categories were down from seven in 2019 to one in 2020. Human sex trafficking cases were down from five in 2019 to zero in 2020, and animal cruelty cases decreased from two to one.

There were no gambling violations in either year.

Goncalves said the department has placed a high emphasis on the Neighborhood Response Unit and community policing over the past several years “to truly connect with our neighborhoods,” she said. The PPD recently hired bilingual lifelong resident Kassandra Florez to serve as its constituent liaison, where she is connecting with the community to help the department best serve and protect residents. Florez has engaged the community through a third-party police survey, with results released by May, and hosted community meetings to provide information to constituents.

“We hope to continue to build on our partnership with our community going forward in order to continue making a stronger Pawtucket,” said the chief.