Violent crime rises 6.6 percent in county in '95 Arrests last year climb to new high

auto thefts decline

April 09, 1996|By Liz Atwood and Kris Antonelli | Liz Atwood and Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Violent crime in Baltimore County grew by 6.6 percent during 1995, and arrests climbed to an all-time high, according to the Police Department's final statistical analysis under the administration of Chief Michael D. Gambrill.

Property crimes showed only a slight rise overall compared with the previous year, despite a 5.1 percent increase in theft -- a category whose 25,271 cases represent more than half of the 46,336 reported crimes.

The increase of 1,242 thefts was offset by a 14.1 percent decline in auto theft, which dropped to its lowest level in five years.

Altogether, crime in Baltimore County grew by 3.1 percent compared with the previous year. In all, 85,668 crimes ranging from homicide to simple drug possession were committed, according to police statistics.

The new police chief, Terrence B. Sheridan, who was sworn in yesterday at Essex Community College, will have to deal with a stubborn problem with robberies and juvenile crime.

"The availability and use of firearms to resolve differences and commit crimes is cause for great concern," Chief Sheridan told an audience of police and county officials. "The task for the criminal justice system is formidable and can only be accomplished through a concerted effort by the citizens, government and the business community."

Among the categories of violent crime, robberies showed the largest increase -- 14 percent, or 303 cases for a total of 2,468. But Chief Gambrill noted that just a few thugs can have a big effect on the numbers, citing the clearance of 54 cases by the robbery squad with the arrests of just four suspects.

"We're devoted to increasing resources and personnel to attack robberies in the county, and we're beginning to see results," said Chief Gambrill, who retired from the department Friday to take a job with a private security company.

A task force of up to 50 officers has been deployed to patrol areas where robberies most frequently occur.

While homicide may be the crime with the highest publicity, the number of those cases -- 38 last year -- is fewest among the listed categories in the report. Police attributed most of the increase of seven deaths to one case -- the explosion on the edge of the Middlesex Shopping Center parking lot Sept. 11, 1995, in which a man detonated a bomb, killing himself and four family members.

More than a third of the 10,886 suspects arrested for serious crimes were juveniles. Youngsters and teens accounted for 74.5 percent of those arrested for arson, 50.8 percent of the arrests for vehicle theft, 34.9 percent of those charged with burglaries, 31.7 percent of those charged with theft, 31.6 percent of those arrested for aggravated assault and 29.9 percent of those arrested for robbery.

The department reported 31,525 arrests for all categories -- an increase of 10.6 percent from the previous year.

Chief Gambrill attributed the arrests to several units, including the Career Criminal Apprehension Unit, the Firearms Violence Unit and the County-City Regional Auto Theft Task Force.

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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