Violent incidents, theft up in Carroll County

Overall crime rate down, report says

April 29, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Violent and property crime increased 4.5 percent in Carroll County last year, and state police attributed the rise to several factors, including population growth and heroin-driven thefts.

"We would like to see lower figures in every category, but these numbers are not ball scores," Lt. Terry Katz, commander of the Westminster state police barracks, said. "You have to consider them in light of other factors, population growth and migration, for example."

Statewide statistics released yesterday in the preliminary Maryland State Police Uniform Crime Report showed overall crime was down 5 percent. The annual report's categories include violent incidents -- murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- and property crimes -- breaking and entering, theft and motor vehicle theft.

Carroll's figures for 1998 showed slight declines in murders -- from three in 1997 to two last year -- and assaults -- from 204 to 190.

The numbers show slight increases in rapes, from 33 to 38; robberies, from 58 to 64; burglaries, from 803 to 805; and motor vehicle thefts, from 170 to 181.

The most significant increase occurred in the property crime of thefts, up about 7 percent from 2,336 to 2,490.

A new state police program, in development for about a year, is designed to "geographically map crimes," Katz said.

Called "GMAS," an acronym for Geographic Management Accountability System, the program calls for barracks commanders to file reports on crimes in their jurisdictions to state police supervisors along with plans to combat them.

"We'll be required to justify our use of resources to fight crimes in the areas where they are occurring," Katz said.

Katz said resident troopers in Westminster in partnership with other agencies and community leaders, and with assistance from state police units, have already used a geographic approach to solving a rash of daytime burglaries in the southern end of the county.

"We identified what the problem was in terms of location and patterns of occurrence, developed a plan on how to solve it by altering patrol schedules," Katz said.

In one month, the number of burglary incidents dropped from 19 to one, Katz said.

In that span, three arrests were made and that should solve nearly all of the 19 cases, he said.

Carroll's population has grown to about 150,000 and migration often means that problems elsewhere come into the county with that migration, Katz said.

Katz noted a daytime burglary yesterday in Westminster in which state police and sheriff's deputies assisted city police in an unsuccessful two-hour search for a man seen leaving a house on Meadow Branch by the homeowner, who returned about 11: 20 a.m.

Westminster police had a perimeter set up quickly, Katz noted, but the suspect apparently got away before police, assisted by K-9 units and a state police helicopter, could confine him, Katz said.

Capt. Randy Barnes, a Westminster Police spokesman, said the homeowner came home, saw the suspect leaving, discovered things in disarray and called police.

Barnes said a gun and some jewelry appeared to be the only items missing.

"When he's caught, the root cause probably will be heroin," Katz said.

"It fits the most likely profile, a daytime breaking and entering when the residents are not supposed to be home," he said. "The items taken can be sold easily."

Crimes like murders are statistical aberrations, Katz said.

"All the law enforcement studies I have seen show programs like GMAS cannot impact murders because you cannot predict when they will occur. I've never been in any jurisdiction where the number of murders [four] nearly outnumber fatalities [six]," he said.

Statistical blips are always going to occur, he said.

"I'd rather not have four murders, but at least the arrest rate -- 100 percent -- looks pretty good," he said. Data on arsons, up one from last year from 1997's total of 31 in Carroll County, are compiled differently than other Crime Index statistics and aren't reflected in the annual report's totals.

Pub Date: 4/29/99

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