The annual Uniform Crime Reporting numbers for Union County are out, but law enforcement officials caution residents not to view them as a comprehensive look at local criminal offenses.
The UCR Crime Graph tracks how many counts in particular criminal categories come through the office of Union County Prosecutor David Phillips in a given year.
The national UCR program started in 1929 with the International Association of Chiefs of Police so the group could collect uniform crime statistics across the country. A year later, the FBI took charge of collecting, publishing and archiving those numbers.
The 2013 Union County statistics show 192 overall incidents, 221 defendants, 574 counts and 51 people not yet charged.
The top four category-specific offenses are: 126 sex offenses, 105 larceny-theft counts, 83 drug abuse violations and 63 burglary counts. Other offenses include seven arsons, seven criminal homicides and three rapes.
Phillips said the numbers tell a story, but not necessarily the one most people think.
The numbers do not show the number of cases for a particular crime category, but the number of criminal counts in that category. One case, for instance, could have multiple counts associated with it.
Marysville Police Chief Floyd Golden agreed.
"These numbers do not directly relate to the number of incident reports/investigations we handled," Golden said.
For example, the UCR Crime Graph shows seven counts of arson countywide, six of which were from Marysville police. Golden said about half of those are from the string of fires set on Eighth Street last year; the case is still pending.
Phillips said it is "dangerous" to try to identify trends in crime by looking at the number of counts processed by his office.
"It gives us some idea about prosecution trends, but not necessarily where we are with crime," he said.
"Generally it does show us some things. Drug abuse counts are down from what they were last year. Does that mean drug abuse violations are down? No. It doesn't necessarily mean the drug problem is going down, it just means the cases we have to prosecute are going down," Phillips said.
The county's growth is tied to some of the cases, according to Phillips. As retailers and other businesses build in Marysville, it attracts theft rings.
"We're also affected a little bit by our proximity to Columbus and the availability of heroin there," he said.
The full report is available on the office's Facebook page, "Office of the Union County (Ohio) Prosecuting Attorney."
"Numbers can mean a lot of things. I think it's interesting to look at what cases have we had as far as prosecution, but I think it's dangerous to draw general conclusions about the state of crime in the county," Phillip said.