Rape, burglary decline car theft on rise

July 30, 1993|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Staff Writer

The rate of rape, burglary and larceny declined in Howard County in the first six months of this year, but car thefts, one of the major property crimes, has been steadily increasing.

The statistics were detailed in a county Police Department crime report, which attributes some of the decline to increased precautions by Howard residents.

The report compares the first six months of this year with the same period in 1992.

It shows an 8 percent decrease in the number of "Part I" crimes -- murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, assault and car thefts -- with 5,065 incidents in 1992 and 4,640 in 1993.

"Part II" crimes -- including simple drug violations, vandalism and fraud -- decreased by 10.5 percent, with 4,363 incidents in 1992 and 3,904 in 1993.

The number of rapes in the county dropped to 11, from 21 last year. Burglary decreased nearly 20 percent and larceny dropped by about 11 percent, the report shows.

"People are more conscious of protecting their property," said Sgt. Steven Keller, of the Property Crimes unit.

"They are finally starting to get the crime prevention message," he said. "They're asking about alarms and deadbolt locks. . . . You have to lock and protect your property."

The Police Department keeps in touch with residents through community liaison programs, community meetings, a Citizens' Advisory Council and a Citizens' Police Academy, which will begin in the fall.

Police solved 112 of 642 reported burglaries and burglary attempts reported in 1993.

However, auto thefts continued to rise. In the first six months of 1993, car thefts have jumped 13 percent above last year's pace.

There have been 414 car thefts in the county, up from 364 during the first six months of last year, the report shows.

Police said a total of 929 vehicles, cars and other automobiles, were stolen in 1992.

The accessibility of Howard County to main highways and routes makes expensive cars and property of many residents tempting for some thieves who migrate from town to town, police said.

A number of stolen cars have been recovered in Baltimore and several other property crimes have been traced to the Washington area, police said.

The absence of a large number of violent crimes has allowed county police to focus on property crimes, some of which are elaborate schemes involving as many as 20 burglaries in a given area, Sergeant Keller said.

Not everyone is comforted by the report.

"I'm afraid to step out of my house without locking the door behind me every day of the week," said Philip McShane of Mount Hebron.

Just a week ago, someone entered the garage door of Mr. McShane's home while he and his wife were in the back yard and stole $5,000 in jewelry. The same thing happened recently to two of his neighbors.

"We don't feel safe," Mr. McShane said. "There are too many things going on that there doesn't seem to be control over."

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