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STRUTHERS Nearly 10 years without a killing



Published: Mon, January 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city has a low rate of violent crime in general, the police chief says.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

STRUTHERS -- It's known as "the city with a heart, in the heart of it all," but a more appropriate slogan might be "the safest city in Mahoning County."

Struthers hasn't seen a reported homicide in nearly a decade, something no other city, and few townships and villages, in the county can claim.

The last homicide reported in the city, with its population of about 13,500, occurred Aug. 7, 1992, when Stephanie Hoffman, 20, was found beaten to death in her East Midlothian Boulevard apartment.

The national murder average for a city the size of Struthers is 0.74 a year, per 13,500 people.

Struthers has been able to achieve this feat even though at least one homicide has been reported in the municipalities it borders since 1992 -- Lowellville had the second-lowest amount of homicides, with one reported in 1993.

Elsewhere: Looking throughout the county, Youngstown had about 420 homicides from 1993 to 2001. Communities with lesser populations such as Austintown and Boardman had six homicides, Campbell had 11, Canfield Township had three, Poland Township had two and Poland Village had one.

"It's something to be proud of, of course," said John Sveda, safety service director. "I like to think that we have a safe community and that our police department works very hard at keeping it that way."

He said the city hasn't seen too many homicides since the 1980s, when gangland slayings were a problem in the entire area.

Report: Struthers isn't crime-free yet. But a report of major crime offenses within the city, released by the police department this week, shows most crimes are on a downward trend.

"In violent crime our numbers are low," said Police Chief Robert Norris. "Our larger numbers are property offenses."

With the exception of 2000, when the city suffered nine rape offenses, Struthers has normally kept the number of rapes below five. None were reported in 1996.

Norris said the city's biggest problem is misdemeanor thefts -- which he classified as stealing anything -- and breaking and entering crimes, which involve a person entering any unoccupied structure.

Domestic violence has also seen an overall increase since 1998, when the city had about 76 such cases. That number has risen to 99 this year.

"Domestic violence is something that we have no control over," said Sveda. "It just seems like nationwide, domestic violence is up."

wheatley@vindy.com




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