Capital sees little change in crime

Annapolis' worst problem is thefts, particularly from cars, police report says

April 18, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

The biggest crime problem in Annapolis is theft - mostly stolen CD players and pocket change - according to the city police department's annual report.

In all, crime statistics in the state capital showed little change in 2001 compared with the year before, other than an increase in burglaries. More than half of the 2,419 crimes reported last year are categorized as major by FBI guidelines were thefts, according to the report.

"Most of them are thefts from autos," said Lt. Gregory Imhof of the Annapolis police. "A lot of it is tourists leaving things like cameras on plain view. A lot of it is portable CD players and even pocket change left in cars."

Violent crime was nearly unchanged between 2000 and 2001. The murder rate doubled - from two in 2000 to four last year. There were four murders last year - two more than in 2000.

The number of rapes decreased slightly to 15 in 2001 - two less than reported in 2000, according to the report released last week. There was also a slight decrease in the number of serious assaults.

"I think we're seeing part of a downward trend," said Annapolis Police Chief Joseph S. Johnson. "Although the stats aren't much lower, it's significant that there aren't a lot of increases."

County robberies up

For example, while the number of robberies rose in Anne Arundel County last year to the point where on average there was at least one robbery a day, Annapolis did not share the problem, the report showed. In fact, robberies in the city dropped by nearly 18 percent from 191 in 2000 to 157 last year.

There were 1,459 thefts last year, four fewer than in 2000.

Burglaries increased about 14 percent to 338 last year from 297 in 2000, according to the report.

Considering that 33,000 people live in Annapolis and that tens of thousands more work in the city or visit each day, the crime report doesn't alarm city officials.

"I think we're in pretty good shape," said Mayor Ellen O. Moyer. "Can we improve? Of course. But compared to statistics of other cities in Maryland and national averages, we're way below that.

"That doesn't mean bad things don't happen," Moyer added. "We have to be ever vigilant. We need to stamp out violence in some core places in the city."

Police continue to focus on crime-ridden spots in some neighborhoods in Eastport and Parole, saying community involvement is the key.

Residents credited

"I credit the commitment of our neighborhood watch groups," Johnson said.

"They're our eyes and ears. When we looked at the numbers, we just shook our heads. We kept the line on crime with less officers and no major increases in resources," he said.

"I think the citizens of our community deserve recognition for that," Johnson said.

Last year, 1,198 residents attended crime prevention training. Eighteen new neighborhood block watch captains were certified, police said.

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