Incidents of violence up slightly over '95 But Baltimore Co. sees drop in property crimes

November 22, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Though fewer car thefts, burglaries and arsons occurred in Baltimore County during the first nine months of this year, violent crimes such as robbery, rape and homicide increased slightly during the period, according to police data released yesterday.

Overall, violent crime increased 0.7 percent in the first nine months of this year, compared with the same period last year.

Rape increased 11.7 percent, robbery increased 3 percent, and the number of homicides rose from 25 to 27 cases. Aggravated assaults declined 1.1 percent, dropping from 3,668 to 3,628.

Property crimes dropped from 29,020 cases to 28,687. Car thefts fell 8.6 percent, burglary dropped 8.3 percent and arson 7.8 percent. Theft increased 2.7 percent, however.

"Overall the numbers are encouraging," said police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan, who took over the department in April and changed the focus of the 1,500-officer agency to enforcement, rather than community policing.

Sheridan said that, "We have had some increases in crime. And, certainly, our focus is on enforcement. But we can't lose sight of the Community Outreach Units or the Citizens on Patrol groups that tell us what is going on in their communities."

Sheridan said he did not think the increase in robberies was evidence of failure on the part of the task force, which is intended to prevent robberies through strict enforcement of laws against other lesser crimes in target areas.

He noted that while robberies were up 24.7 percent in the first three months of the year, compared with the year before, and up 9.7 percent in the first half, they were up only 3 percent through the first nine months of the year.

"The kicker is that the number of robbery arrests are up 34 percent," he said. "We are seeing some good numbers as a result of aggressive enforcement."

While the number of reported rapes are up, sex crimes detectives say it is difficult to say why.

"One thing detectives have noticed is an increase in third-party complaints," said police spokesman Bill Toohey. "We are getting more reports from clergy, counselors and teachers who are telling us about teen-agers they know who have been raped."

Sheridan attributes the 8.3 percent drop in burglaries to his reassignment of burglary detectives back to headquarters and away from precinct houses to improve communication. Residential burglaries have made up 55 percent of the total 5,162 cases this year.

Juvenile crime continues to be an important issue in the county, the statistics show, with juveniles accounting for 36.1 percent of all arrests for serious crime.

Juveniles accounted for 63.4 percent of the arson arrests, 47.6 percent of car theft arrests, 36 percent of burglaries, 35.6 percent of thefts, 33.5 percent of aggravated assaults, 30.2 percent of robberies, 16.1 percent of rapes and 9.1 percent of homicides.

Sheridan has made juvenile crime a priority, and in August he formed a committee of county law enforcement officials to study the issue and report to him with solutions.

Pub Date: 11/22/96

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