Robberies in Howard increase by 66% But in first 9 months of '95, crime is up 8% overall

November 28, 1995|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Howard County Police DepartmentSUN STAFF

Robberies in Howard County jumped 66 percent during the first nine months this year, already surpassing 1994's year-end total and fueling an overall 8 percent increase in crime, according to statistics released yesterday by Howard County police.

Burglaries and thefts also rose sharply from January to September, compared with the same period last year, though violent crime -- homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults and rapes -- decreased overall by almost 10 percent, largely because of a drop in aggravated assaults, the new statistics show.

Meanwhile, less serious crimes such as vandalism, prostitution and drug violations increased by only 0.5 percent compared with last year's crime figures.

There was no indication how Howard County's overall 8.1 percent increase in crime would compare with statewide figures, which were not available yesterday. But after six months, Howard's increase of 17 percent was much higher than the statewide average of 4 percent.

The second largest crime category in Howard, burglaries, jumped 37 percent -- to 1,103 -- during the first nine months of this year, compared with 803 during the same time last year.

Burglaries this year likely will surpass last year's total of 1,247 -- a jump police blame on milder weather. Heavy snow and icy weather kept many burglars indoors during early 1994. This year's fair, warmer weather has put burglary totals back up, said Sgt. Steven Keller, a police spokesman.

While federal law enforcement officials say violent crime is on the rise in America, Howard County's latest figures show a decline in violent offenses.

In the nine months, there were two homicides, 149 robberies, 228 aggravated assaults and 21 rapes. This time last year there were two homicides, 90 robberies, 328 aggravated assaults and 22 rapes.

Of all the violent crimes, robbery has already passed last year's total of 147. Police said that statistic was boosted by two Prince George's County men charged with more than 40 robberies in five Maryland counties, including Howard.

Sergeant Keller said many counties are experiencing a problem with robbers.

"It's just the fast life," he said. "Look at other jurisdictions. We're not an island. Everybody around us is committing robberies."

A 30 percent decrease in aggravated assault, another violent crime, was responsible for pushing down the overall violent-crime category. There were 228 such assaults through September, compared with 328 through the same period last year.

At least 58,444 residents called police for service through September. During the first nine months of this year, the department recorded 5,897 arrests. That total is 20 percent higher than arrests at this time last year.

Sergeant Keller said the number of arrests was boosted by Howard County's federally funded Alcohol Enforcement Unit, which started in May.

From July to November alone, the unit has issued about 600 criminal citations -- officially tallied as arrests -- for underage drinking, open-container violations and other crimes.

Howard crime statistics

Figures comparing the first nine months of 1995 with the first nine months of 1994:

Offense .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1994 .. .. 1995 .. % change

Burglaries .. .. .. .. .. ... 803 .. . 1,103 .. .. .. 37.4%

VTC Rapes . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 22 .. .. . 21 .. .. .. -4.5%

Homicides ... .. .. .. .. .. .. 2 .. .. .. 2 .. .. .. ... 0

Robberies ... .. .. .. .. .. . 90 .. ... 149 .. .. .. 65.5%

Assaults . .. .. .. .. .. ... 328 .. ... 228 .. .. . -30.5%

Thefts ... .. .. .. .. .. . 4,217 .. . 4,722 .. .. .. . 12%

Vehicle thefts . .. .. .. ... 883 .. ... 823 .. .. .. -6.8%

Total serious crimes . .. . 7,930 .. . 8,532 .. .. ... 7.6%

Serious crime arrests ... . 1,170 .. . 1,200 .. .. ... 2.6%

Adult arrests .. .. .. .. ... 709 .. ... 724 .. .. ... 2.1%

Juvenile arrests .. .. .. ... 461 .. ... 476 .. .. ... 3.3%

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