Violent crime up in Annapolis and county But officials point to improvement over '95

March 18, 1997|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Overall crime increased slightly in Anne Arundel County and Annapolis last year because of a significant rise in violent-crime rates, according to statistics released by both police departments yesterday.

In the county, where violent crimes -- which include homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- increased 7.6 percent, total crime rose 5.1 percent. In the city, where violent crimes jumped 13.7 percent, total crime increased 1.5 percent.

The numbers looked bleak, but both jurisdictions said crime statistics showed improvement compared with 1995. Annapolis police officials blamed the overall increase in crime in the city mostly on the number of homicides, which rose from two in 1995 to four in 1996.

"Our numbers are very deceptive because we've got smaller numbers in certain categories," said Lt. Zora Lykken, a city police spokeswoman. "For example, with just two more homicides last year, it pushed up our stats by 100 percent, which pushed up the overall numbers."

In 1995, the overall crime rate increased 3 percent, Lykken said. Last year, there were significant jumps in every violent-crime category in the city except for rape, which declined 33 percent, from 18 cases in 1995 to 12 last year.

Robberies rose 15.8 percent, from 177 in 1995 to 205 in 1996, and assaults increased 14.9 percent, from 241 in 1995 to 277 in 1996.

Auto thefts jumped 26.4 percent, from 136 in 1995 to 172 cases in 1996, while auto thefts in the county decreased 5.2 percent.

County officials said they were pleased with the decreases in certain categories.

"Most of our violent crimes, such as homicide, rape and robberies, have decreased," said Officer S. Vaughn Dykes, but other crime categories have increased, pushing our total up."

Total crime went up 7.6 percent last year after rising 1.2 percent in 1995.

Dykes focused on the decrease in violent crimes, attributing that to improved patrol and crime-prevention programs. He also said improved technology -- forensic and surveillance -- have helped deter and solve more crimes.

In the county, homicides decreased 31.3 percent, from 16 in 1995 to 11 in 1996; rapes decreased 10.8 percent, from 83 in 1995 to 74 in 1996, and robberies decreased 2.3 percent, from 577 in 1995 to 564 in 1996. The only violent crime with an increase was aggravated assaults, which increased 17 percent, from 837 to 979.

Nonviolent property crimes -- including burglary, theft, auto theft and arson -- increased 4.9 percent in the county.

In comparison, total crime in the rest of the nation decreased 0.9 percent in 1995, according to the most recent statistics from the Uniform Crime Report statistics compiled by the FBI. Violent crimes decreased 3.2 percent, and property crimes were down 0.5 percent.

Pub Date: 3/18/97

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