Baltimore County police said yesterday that the number of crimes solved in the county is significantly higher than national averages in all the major crime categories but one.
County police solved 70 percent of all violent crimes for the first nine months compared with the national average of 45 percent, spokesman E. Jay Miller said yesterday. Clearance of property crimes, harder to solve, averaged 22 percent, slightly higher than the national clearance rate of 18 percent, Mr. Miller said.
In a news conference Monday by County Executive Roger B. Hayden, the number of crimes solved in the county was not made available when the third-quarter crime statistics were released. The report showed a 2.2 percent increase in overall crime due to a continuing rise in auto thefts, but a 4.7 percent decrease in violent crime.
Afterward, Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, Mr. Hayden's Democratic opponent in Tuesday's election, and Lt. Timothy Caslin, county Fraternal Order of Police president, made the missing clearance rates an issue.
Mr. Ruppersberger blamed Hayden budget cuts four years ago for leading to the situation. Lieutenant Caslin said the clearance rates were not included in the news conference because "investigators were working short-handed," therefore leaving many crimes unsolved. But Mr. Miller said the missing numbers were an oversight and not done intentionally to hide bad results.
"We used to include the clearance rates with the crime statistics in the past," said Mr. Miller. "But they weren't used by the press, so we quit including them. In fact, if you compare them to the national figures, the county is well over the national clearance rate averages for almost all the categories."
A comparison with the national clearance averages for 1992 in urban and suburban areas, the latest available, showed the county with a significantly higher rate in all eight categories except for auto theft. The 1993 national clearance rates are not available, said Andy Manning, an FBI spokesman in Baltimore.
The county solved 90 percent of its homicide cases, compared with a national average of 45 percent, according to the county police statistics. Seventy percent of rapes were solved in the county, compared with 53 percent nationally.
The other clearance rates were:
Aggravated assaults, 83.8 percent solved by the county, 56 BTC percent nationally; robberies, 36.7 percent by the county, 24 percent nationally; burglaries, 16.7 percent by the county, 13 percent nationally; thefts, 27.2 percent by the county, 20 percent nationally; arson, 25.5 percent by the county, 15 percent nationally.
Auto theft was the only category in which the county solved a lower percentage of cases than the national average. Nationally, 14 percent of auto theft cases were solved, compared with the county's 8.6 percent.
Mr. Miller said the low average for auto theft clearances can be explained by the fact that cars stolen in the county generally are abandoned, instead of being sold illegally or disassembled for parts.
"If they were being torn apart and sold for parts, we would have a better chance of tracking down the thieves," he said. "But they're just abandoned. But, overall we're still making gains there."