North Idaho

Kootenai County crime up nearly 10-percent

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Kootenai County crime rate

This week new numbers show Kootenai County is rated the top county for crime in Idaho. While the saw a 1.5-percent drop in crime in 2012, Kootenai County say a 9.3-percent increase.

Deputies say visitors deserve part of the blame, especially those from Spokane.

Coeur d'Alene is known as a resort town. With the crime per capita now at the worst in the state deputies say the new stats don't account for visitors.

Tuesday afternoon, in broad daylight, Sherman's Hardware owner John Montandon had an unusual customer.

"He was on the phone like a lot of people are," Montandon said. "Up and down the aisles, up and down the aisles."

The man picked up a $50 berzomatic torch, walked by the counter and then tried to get out the back. When he couldn't open the door, the thief walked out the side door.

"This guy didn't have any (thought) of paying for it, he just was gone," Montandon said.

Montandon's story was common in Kootenai County last year; more common than any other county in the state of Idaho. New statistics released by the Idaho State Police show the crime rate here increased more than nine percent.

Larceny -- like what happened at Sherman's Hardware -- was the most common crime followed by simple assault, vandalism and burglary.

"The crime in Idaho is going up as the population goes up," Lieutenant Stu Miller with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department said.

Miller said the resort seeking population from Eastern Washington and around the country is great for the economy, but can hurt the crime statistics.

"Anytime you bring in more folks, there's the potential for them to commit crimes unfortunately. It's not the sleepy little town anymore that it used to be," he said.

When asked if he could provide any specific arrest numbers related to Spokane County residents and out-of-town visitors in Kootenai County, Lt. Miller could not provide any specific numbers.

Miller added the biggest factor for his department in controlling crime is staffing. He said the sheriff's department has fewer deputies per capita when compared to other large counties across the state.

"I guess that's one of the biggest hurdles, trying to get enough staffing to be everywhere at the same time," he said.

Over at Sherman's Hardware, John Montandon hopes his thief is caught and punished right so these criminals won't be so brazen and maybe it will drive his county's crime rate down.

"Real consequences to theft and breaking the law; instead of just slapping their hands if they do catch them, fining them $100, and letting them go," he said.