By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Getting a bad rap on an internet crime rating site may be hurting Del Norte Countys tourism trade. shows the risk of violent crime for each ZIP code in the nation. Del Norte Countys 95531 code area was rated seven out of 10, with 10 being the worst.

Thats ludicrous, said officer Rodger Chindgren of the Crescent City Police Department. The bulk of our crime is substance abuse. I cant remember the last time we had a murder.

The disparity between local crime statistics and the high danger rating of the Web site is upsetting to the local Tourism and Marketing committee, according to member Janice Robinson.

There is fear among Del Norte County tourism-dependent businesses that the bad reputation and information contained in this Web site will damage our future, Robinson said.

Specifically, the site warns potential visitors to and residents of Del Norte County they will have a moderately high risk of becoming a victim of violent crime while here.

The authors who assigned such a risk to this ZIP code run an internet based business in Pennsylvania. Dan Cropp and Dr. Robert Figlio formed CAP Index Inc. to provide an area specific risk reporting system. They were unavailable for comment yesterday.

According to apbnews Web site, CAPs assessment formula factors in the education level, the economic status and police reports to figure an areas risk level.

But both the local Sheriff and Chief of Police say violent crime is not prevalent here and that the crime rate in general has steadily declined in the past 10 years.

Assaults are the lowest theyve been in six years, said Del Norte County Sheriff Jim Maready.

This is not a violent area. We have crimes like everybody else - but on average, people should feel safe here, he said.

Crescent City Police Chief Robert West said he is shocked by the moderately high risk rating and said he feels it is grossly inaccurate.

I know the crime rate in Crescent City proper has declined in the past five years...Id like to know where and how they got their information, West said.

Vic Stratman owns the Ramblin Rose Recreational Vehicle Park and said he feels the rating could be a serious detriment to the countys economy.

The internet seems to be the way people get information these days. And if its on campground links, its probably on hotel and travel sites, too, he said.

Stratman noted families planning a trip to the redwoods will likely stumble onto the crime rating site and choose to go somewhere else.

Does the prison have an effect on the Crescent City areas rating?

Probably not. Pelican Bay State Prison has its own ZIP code: 95532 and the apbnews site rates it a six out of 10.

Brookings was rated a five, or moderate risk for visitors becoming victims. Stratman said people traveling in recreational vehicles would more likely visit Brookings than Del Norte County as a result.

Maready noted theres only been one murder here in the last three years and robberies are usually between people who know each other.

I dont know what they base their ratings on...I take exception to it, he said.

There is a space on the Web site for those who want to give feedback on the ratings. Stratman said he hopes people do respond to the statisticians and encourage them to give a more accurate assessment of Del Norte County.