County crime rate decreases 8.3 percent Significant drops noted in almost all categories

September 02, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Crime in Baltimore County decreased significantly in almost every category for the first half of this year, according to figures released yesterday by the police department, which attributed the decline to a widespread collaborative effort to fight crime.

Overall, crime dropped by 8.3 percent for the period, compared with the first six months of last year. Most dramatic was the drop in robbery, which declined by 19 percent. Large decreases were also reported in the categories of theft, arson and motor vehicle theft.

The only category that saw an increase was burglary, which rose by less than 1 percent.

"We're doing all right," said Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan. "It's a combination of things -- cooperation of citizens, communities, merchants. Everybody recognizes that there's a problem, and we need to work on it together."

Sheridan said that he could not credit any program or organization, but he said prosecutors, judges, police officers and county agencies are working in unison, and the improved numbers reflect that cooperation.

"It's a litany of programs and organizations working together," Sheridan said. "We can't let up."

Sheridan also praised his department, noting that his officers' clearance rates are well above the national averages. (A case is cleared in police records when an arrest is made.)

The county's clearance rate for robberies in the first half of the year was 41 percent, he said, compared with a national rate in 1996 (the most recent year for which numbers are available) of 27 percent. The county's burglary clearance rate was 27 percent, compared with 14 percent nationally.

White Marsh was the only county precinct to report an overall increase in crime -- 4.3 percent for the six-month period.

The precinct commander, Capt. Brian A. Uppercue, said growth in the area partly accounts for the increase.

"The biggest struggle and the biggest challenge is the explosion of growth, not just in residential but in commercial areas," he said.

The numbers of robberies and aggravated assaults declined in White Marsh for the six-month period, but the figures for thefts, vehicle thefts, arson and breaking and entering increased.

Baltimore County crime drops

Crime fell in nearly every category for the first six months of LTC 1998, compared with the first six months of last year. The table shows figures compiled by Baltimore County Police Department.

Crime ................. 1997 ..... 1998 ..... Change

Criminal homicide ..... 12 ....... 8 ........ -33.3%

Rape .................. 116 ...... 114 ...... -1.7%

Robbery ............... 1,127 .... 913 ...... -19.0%

Aggravated assault .... 2,306 .... 2,012 .... -12.7%

Total violent crime ... 3,561 .... 3,047 .... -14.4%

Burglary .............. 3,143 .... 3,168 .... 0.8%

Theft ................. 12,324 ... 11,116 ... -9.8%

Motor vehicle theft ... 2,102 .... 1,755 .... -16.5%

Arson ................. 189 ...... 157 ...... -16.9%

Total property crime .. 17,758 ... 16,196 ... -8.8%

Other crime ........... 21,365 ... 19,897 ... -6.9%

Total crime ........... 42,684 ... 39,140 ... -8.3%

Pub Date: 9/02/98

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