The Portland police sent out a statement today noting that crime in the area surrounding Occupy Portland has increased 18 percent since this time last year.
There seem to be four basic factors to explain the increase:
1) There are more police in the area. The bureau usually staffs the three districts around Lownsdale and Chapman Square with nine police officers over the course of 24 hours. With Occupy there, they've beefed up the patrols with an additional six officers over every 24 hour period. With more officers on the street, we're going to see an uptick in both reported crimes (people coming up to the police saying they've seen something) and people being ticketed or arrested.
2) There are more people reporting crimes in the area. The camp doesn't just have attention from the police, there are lot of eyes are on Occupy right now. With lots of people walking through the area to check out the camp or see what's going on, you're going to have more eyes on the street and more crimes reported.
3) There are more people! "There's an increase in density in people committing crimes," says police spokesman Pete Simpson. "Those parks are empty most of the time, now you have a couple hundred people in a two square block area." More people means more potential criminal violations, especially when a good number of them are dealing with mental illness and addiction issues.
4) There actually are more crimes occurring—especially in the "dumb shit" categories. Check out the list of crimes (pdf) in October 2010 versus this month. There are 90 more cases of criminal activity this year than last year, with increases in drinking in public, bike theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing and shoplifting, among others. There's also an uptick in assault, which is legitimately scary.