Violent crime down overall in Balto. Co. But rape increases 10.5% and theft rises 1.5%

March 11, 1997|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Most types of violent crime -- including robbery, serious assault and homicide -- declined last year in Baltimore County, according to statistics released by county police yesterday. But the figures also show a 10.5 increase in rape and a 1.5 percent increase in theft.

Although total crime in the county rose 2.5 percent in 1996 compared with 1995, police officials were pleased at the decrease in most kinds of serious crime against people, and with the drop in such property crimes as burglary, car theft and arson.

Community leaders were not surprised that many categories of crime showed decreases last year, citing increased community involvement and more police officers patrolling the streets.

"There are more police officers, and there are also the Citizens on Patrol groups who are often the eyes and ears of the police officers," said Fred Porcella, president of the White Marsh Police Community Relations Council.

Mary Poehlman, president of the Towson Precinct citizens council, said that although minor problems have occurred in the Greater Hillendale area, she is pleased with the higher visibility of police officers.

"Now that they have started [specialized patrols] in the Hillendale area, it has helped a lot," she said. "We have seen more police officers, and I have not heard of any major problems."

But the increase of reported rapes and attempted rapes last year over 1995 -- from 248 to 274 -- is puzzling to police, who say that the rise could be attributable to an increase in public awareness of the crime.

"We have new victim-witness counselors at the White Marsh and Woodlawn precincts where they are available to victims," said county Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan.

He said a breakdown of acquaintance and stranger rape was not available, but that the county had no cases of serial or multiple-victim rapists.

Sheridan, who has been chief for nearly a year, also said he was unsure why theft increased slightly.

"We have had a rash of car breaks-ins during which cell phones were stolen," Sheridan said. "So that accounts for some of it."

Armed robberies -- the single biggest crime problem in the county -- dropped slightly, from 2,468 cases in 1995 to 2,427 last year. Sheridan attributed that to an increase in robbery detectives and a Robbery Task Force patrolling the county.

Juveniles accounted for about 35 percent of all arrests for serious crime in 1996, the figures show. That is up slightly from the previous year, when juveniles accounted for 34.2 percent.

"We are working to develop some programs that will help with the juvenile crime issue," said Sheridan, who in August formed a committee of county law enforcement officials to study the issue.

County crime statistics

Category .. .. .. .. .... .1995 .. ..1996 .. .. .. ..Change (%)

Homicide .. .. .. .. .. .. ..38 .. .. .34 .. .. .. ...4 (10.5%)

Rape* .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .248 .. ...274 .. .. .. .+26 (10.5%)

Armed robbery .. .. .. ...2,468 .. .2,427 .. .. .. ...41 (1.7%)

Aggravated assault .. .. .4,909 .. .4,673 .. .. .. ..236 (4.8%)

Motor vehicle theft .. ...5,377 .. .4,720 .. .. .. .657 (12.2%)

Arson .. .. .. .. .. .. ....420 .. ...403 .. .. .. .. ..17 (4%)

Theft .. .. .. .. .. .. .25,371 ...25,743 .. .. ...+372 (1.5%)

* The number of rapes also includes attempted rapes.

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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.