Baltimore County's crime on the decline All categories but burglary show significant decline in 9-month statistics

December 15, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Serious crime fell significantly in Baltimore County for the first nine months of this year, according to police statistics released yesterday -- with homicides, rapes and aggravated assaults hitting a 10-year low.

The only category of major crime that went up during the period from January through September was burglary, which increased less than 1 percent compared with the same period last year, according to police statistics.

"I think a number of things we're doing are working," county police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan said yesterday. "You can't put your finger on one thing and say, 'It's working,' because it's not just one thing -- it's a collaborative effort."

Sheridan praised the members of his department and residents who have worked with police to fight crime.

"This business is not something you do by yourself," he said.

Vehicle thefts showed one of the sharpest drops in county crimes, falling 17.2 percent during the nine-month period -- the lowest number of such thefts reported since 1986, police said. Sheridan said the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, which pairs city and county officers, has contributed to the decline.

The RAT program, as it is known, made its 3,000th arrest last week, said police spokesman Bill Toohey. The program began in 1995.

Despite a drop in the total number of crimes in the county, juveniles continue to account for almost a third of crimes -- 32.1 percent. Sheridan said the county planned to expand several programs to prevent juvenile crime.

Juvenile Offenders In Need of Supervision, a small but successful program that gives young offenders counseling and community service in a diversionary effort, will be expanded from one precinct into the entire county in the next year, Sheridan said.

The county also plans to expand the school resource officer program, which assigns an officer to a school. Police officers are present at Milford Mill Academy and Pikesville High School, Sheridan said, and the program will place officers in all county schools.

The Police Athletic League program is also growing, police said. The program, run by police and the county's Parks and Recreation Department, offers after-school activities and supervised study.

"Any number of juvenile crimes is too many," Sheridan said. "Hopefully, we'll start to see a reduction in juvenile crime."

Statistics Crime .. .. .. .. .. ... Jan.- .. .. . .. Jan.- .. .. .. .. Percent

.. .. .. .. .. .. . Sept. 1998 .. .. Sept. 1997 .. .. .. ... Change

Criminal homicide .. .. ... 14 .. .. .. .. . 19 .. .. .. .. . -26.3

Rape .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 182 .. .. .. ... 193 .. .. .. .. .. -5.7

Robbery .. .. .. .. .. . 1,379 .. .. .. . 1,788 .. .. .. .. . -22.9

Aggravated assault .. .. 3,083 .. .. .. . 3,560 .. .. .. .. . -13.4

Total violent crime .. . 4,658 .. .. .. . 5,560 .. .. .. .. . -16.2

Burglary .. .. .. .. ... 5,313 .. .. .. . 5,304 .. .. .. .. ... 0.2

Theft .. .. .. .. .. .. 17,484 .. .. ... 19,218 .. .. .. .. .. -9.0

Motor vehicle theft .. . 2,635 .. .. .... 3,182 .. .. .. .. . -17.2

Arson .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 248 .. .. .. ... 290 .. .. .. .. . -14.5

Total property crime .. 25,680 .. .. ... 27,994 .. .. .. .. .. -8.3

Total crime .. .. .. .. 60,967 .. .. ... 65,580 .. .. .. .. .. -7.0

SOURCE: Baltimore County Police Department

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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