Howard crime shows substantial drop in quarter Violent incidents fall 36.5 percent

burglaries also fall

May 06, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Some of the crime statistics published in Wednesday's Howard County edition of The Sun were incorrect. The correct figures for rape in Howard County are seven in 1997 and nine in 1998, an increase of 28.6 percent; and for car theft, 204 in 1997 and 149 in 1998, a decrease of 27 percent.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Crime in Howard County dropped significantly during the first three months of this year -- continuing previous decreases in violent offenses while sharply reversing last year's rise in burglaries, according to crime statistics released by police yesterday.

"It's really hard to say exactly what caused those decreases," Sgt. Morris Carroll, the department's spokesman, said of the first-quarter figures. "We've been working closely with residents to prevent those offenses."

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Carroll said such community work is especially effective against burglaries and thefts. He also pointed to targeted patrols -- such as the Long Reach Hot Spot initiative, which puts extra police officers in that Columbia village -- as a help in reducing crime.

Violent crimes, including homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, dropped 36.5 percent -- from 126 reported incidents during the first three months of 1997 to 80 during the same period this year. That decline was spurred mostly by 15 fewer robberies and 33 fewer assaults, the figures showed.

Burglaries, car thefts and petty thefts plummeted 21 percent -- from 2,054 reported cases during those months in 1997 to 1,629 in the first quarter of this year. Burglaries dropped from 355 to 292, and auto thefts decreased from 204 to 149.

Carroll said one reason for these drops is that residents have gotten the word and are taking simple precautions, such as locking their garages, which has a major impact on bicycle thefts. He also said police have increased their efforts to arrest burglars.

Arrests for juvenile crime, which had been increasing substantially during the decade, also dropped, with juveniles arrested for property crimes declining from 174 to 165. Youth arrests for violent crimes fell from 18 to nine, the data showed.

The Howard County figures follow a nationwide trend of decreasing crime, something experts attribute not only to better work by police and prosecutors, but also to the strong economy.

The Howard County figures are the first statistics released since the year-end numbers came out in February. Those showed showed an overall decrease in violent crimes during 1997, but a sudden rise in burglaries.

Violent crime dropped 12 percent in 1997 compared with the 1996 figures, but burglaries increased 17 percent -- from 1,278 to 1,497 -- those statistics showed. Police attributed that jump -- which reversed seven years of decreases -- to thefts from garages and a surge in heroin addicts stealing to finance their addiction.

Last year, robberies dropped 11 percent, from 248 to 222.

At that time, Carroll said police had been focusing their efforts on violent crime, but would start giving increased attention to juvenile and theft incidents.

First-quarter crimes

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1997 .. .. 1998 .. .. % change

Homicides . .. .. .. .. .. 1 .. .. .. 1 .. .. .. .. 0

Rapes .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 7 .. .. .. 9 .. .. .. -28.6

Robberies . .. .. .. .. . 52 .. .. . 37 .. .. .. -28.8

Aggravated assaults ... . 66 .. .. . 33 .. .. .. -50

Burglaries ... .. .. ... 355 .. ... 292 .. .. .. -17.7

Petty thefts . .. .. . 1,495 .. . 1,188 .. .. .. -20.5

Car thefts ... .. .. ... 204 .. ... 149 .. .. ... 27

SOURCE: Howard County Police Department

Pub Date: 5/08/98

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