Howard county's crime rate increased 8.6 percent in the first quarter of 1991 compared to the same period last year, with the largest increase in auto thefts.
Representing a 51 percent increase over lastyear, the number of auto thefts rose from 237 to 359.
"In the first quarter we were seeing 10 (auto) thefts every day on the log," said police spokesman, Gary L. Gardner. "But in the last three weeks it's dropped off significantly."
To address the problem, the department recently appointed a detective who will concentratespecifically on auto thefts and coordinate the investigations.
Reported murders increased from one in the first quarter of 1990 to five in the first four months of 1991.
The homicides were not random,but resulted from incidents such as a domestic dispute and a murder-suicide, Gardner said.
Robberies rose from 18 to 30 and thefts increased by 5.6 percent, from 1,111 to 1,174, during the first quartersof 1990 and 1991.
Reported assaults rose 11 percent, from 429 in 1990 to 478 in 1991. Rapes, including attempted rapes, rose from six to eight.
Burglaries dropped from 376 in the first quarter in 1990to 311 in 1991.
GENERATOR IGNITES, BURNS MAN ON LEGS
A generator fire Monday night at a plumbing business in North Laurel sent a man to the hospital with first- and second-degree burns.
County fire and rescue services responded to a fire at 10:15 p.m. at R. E. Whillar Plumbing on Jester Court.
Apparently, the generator's hot engine ignited as Carroll Albright, 24, of the 6900 block of King Road, Boonsboro, filled it with gasoline, county fire officials said.
Albright was treated at the scene by county rescue technicians for first-andsecond-degree burns to his legs and thighs. He was then transported to the Washington Hospital Center, where he was in stable condition yesterday afternoon.
WOMAN, 82, TREATED FOR SMOKE INHALATION
An elderly woman was treated for smoke inhalation after a fire at her Columbia apartment early Tuesday morning, said county fire and rescue services.
The fire occurred at 2:05 a.m. at the Fenland Field apartment complex in the 5300 block of Harper's Farm Road at the apartment of82-year-old Mary Burns.
Fire and rescue services technicians arrived at the scene to find Burns outside of the building. A neighbor reported the fire.
Burns was stabilized at the scene for smoke inhalation and taken to Howard County General Hospital, where she was treated and released.
The state fire marshal's office is investigatingthe fire, which caused $2,000 in damage.
The chaplain for the county fire services made temporary living arrangements for Burns, who was displaced from her apartment.
A compilation of some of the crimes reported to Howard County police and state police:
11000 block Cricket Hollow Court: May 8, before 8 a.m. unknown suspect pried open a rear window to a home and stole cash and clothing.
10800 block Vista Road: May 9, an unknown suspect smashed open a side door and stole jewelry and electronic equipment from a home.
10700 Mid Summer Lane: May 6, before 3 p.m. an unknown suspect entered ahome through a rear window and stole a microwave, camera equipment and a stereo.
9400 block of Farewell Road: May 8, about 3 a.m. an unknown suspect entered a home and was confronted by residents. The suspect fled on foot. He was described as a white male, between 19 and 23 years old, 6 feet tall, with medium build, a dark tan and curly brown hair.