Violent crime down, car thefts up in Md.

August 25, 1994|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writer

Last winter's severe weather may have helped reduce violent crimes between January and June, but the ice and snow did not slow thieves who stole 3,500 more motor vehicles than during the same period last year, according to statewide crime statistics released by state police Tuesday.

Murder in the state decreased 11 percent. The Baltimore area (Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties), where most of the state's murders took place, saw a 15 percent decrease, from 195 to 165.

Baltimore, however, was also the top region for motor vehicle thefts during the six months with a 34 percent increase over last year, from 8,526 in 1993 to 11,430 so far this year.

Overall, crime increased less than 1 percent in the first six months of 1994, compared with the same period last year.

"The very harsh winter we had had to play a part in decreasing the violent crimes," said Michael McKelvin, a state police spokesman.

Mr. McKelvin said police raids on high-crime areas, such as those in the Middle East and Midway-Barclay neighborhoods in East Baltimore, also contributed to the decrease.

Thirty-two fewer murders and about 400 fewer aggravated assaults were committed statewide during the first six months of 1994 than during the same months in 1993, according to the statistics.

Mr. McKelvin said auto thefts increased despite police efforts to crack down on stolen car traffic.

"Many people are still extremely lax about how they go about just going to the store, leaving the car unlocked with the key inside," Mr. McKelvin said.

"It's ironic," he said. "This has been one of the best years for breaking up chop shops and stolen car rings."

In July, police on a drug raid at a Milford Mill home recovered seven stolen luxury cars, valued at $255,000. A Maryland Motor Vehicle Theft Task Force raid in March turned up more than $165,000 worth of stolen cars, trucks and parts at a South Baltimore garage.

While inclement weather may hinder criminals, watchful citizens are still the best defense against crime, said Mr. McKelvin.

"Certainly, any law enforcement agency would like to flat out take credit for the drops," he said. "But one of the most important things that brings crime down is community awareness, people who are going to go out of their way to ensure that their neighbor doesn't fall victim."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.