In December 2011, the Observer looked back on twenty-five years of its monthly Crime Maps and found an astonishing trend: the number of robberies, sexual assaults, vehicle thefts, and burglaries reported in Ann Arbor had fallen 70 percent between 1986 and 2010. Even when we compared five-year averages, to iron out year-to-year fluctuations, rates were down 63 percent between 1986-1990 and 2006-2010. And crime had continued to fall through 2011.
"We are having an exceptional year this year," mayor John Hieftje said at the time. "It's almost bound to go up next year."
"It's got to because it's down so low," agreed then police chief Barnett Jones. "Next year may be normal, which will be up."
Just 722 crimes ended up on the Crime Map in 2011, the lowest total since we started tracking in 1986. Burglary, robbery, and vehicle theft all hit record lows--though sexual assaults rose from sixty to seventy-one, a four-year high.