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Overall crime down in Maine for ninth straight year

The Maine Department of Public Safety annual crime report shows violent crimes were down 5% in 2020, but arson and motor vehicle theft were up 25%.

MAINE, USA — Editors note: The video above aired Dec. 29, 2020.

For the ninth year in a row, overall crime rates in Maine decreased in 2020.

The Maine Department of Public Safety released its annual Crime in Maine report Monday, including 2020 statistics from municipal, county, and state law enforcement. 

The overall crime rate was down 6.1% over the course of 2020, with violent crimes, including homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults, down 4.9%.

The crime of rape in other states is known as gross sexual assault in Maine.

The number of homicides in 2020 was the same as in 2019: 22. In 2020, 5 of those were domestic violence-related, according to the report.

The number of rape reports decreased 4.9%, down from 514 in 2019 to 489 in 2020.

But advocates say rape is underreported and that "the vast majority of survivors" do not report the crime.

"[A]according to the Muskie School’s Maine Crime Victimization Survey, we know that an estimated 14,000 Mainers will experience this crime each year, indicating that the vast majority of survivors are not reporting to law enforcement – a fact that has been further influenced by this pandemic,” Elizabeth Ward Saxl, executive director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said in a release.

Reports of domestic violence assaults were down 6% in 2020, but officials say they have not seen a similar reduction in calls to hotlines. Calls from survivors to Maine's domestic violence resource centers were up 13% in FY 2021 over the previous year, according to Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence executive director Francine Garland Stark.

“I think one thing that’s really important is that we don’t frame what we learn from the crime report is that domestic violence is down 6% in Maine," Regina Rooney with the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence told NEWS CENTER Maine. "Because what that crime report shows us is one particular metric which is domestic violence assault. It doesn’t tell us anything about a variety of other domestic violence crimes."

"So much of domestic abuse happens under the radar. It thrives in silence. That’s where it grows," Rooney continued.

Property crimes, including burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson, were down 6.2%, although motor vehicle thefts were up 18.4% and arson up 23.4%.

NEWS CENTER Maine STORIES