Statistics show 17% decrease in violent crime in area

Car thefts and attempts up 10% in 6-month period

Howard County

August 28, 2002|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Overall violent crime dropped nearly 17 percent in Howard County in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to police statistics released yesterday.

Police also reported solving a greater percentage of violent crimes, such as rapes and robberies, than they did during the same period last year. Double-digit declines occurred in many categories of crime, police said, including rape, burglary and aggravated assault.

But the number of car thefts and attempted car thefts increased about 10 percent this year, from 255 to 280, the statistics show. Robberies also increased by nearly 8 percent, from 97 to 105.

Police Chief Wayne Livesay said the increase in thefts should be assessed over a longer period. "It's a disservice to say how we did, based on such a short time," he said.

And while he is happy about the drop in violent crime, Livesay, at this point, is not placing too much weight on those statistics either.

"We're pleased, but we don't want to draw any conclusions from just three or four or five months," he said. "I'm hesitant to take much credit for [decreases] until we see what happens over a longer period."

One number that Livesay noted was the growth in calls for service. Calls for service increased by about 12,000 during the first six months of this year when compared with the same period last year. The jump represents nearly a 25 percent increase, the chief said.

While calls for service historically spike during the summer months when more people are out of doors, the chief also noted concerns about terrorist activity or post 9/11 fears as possible factors behind the increase.

Livesay said he would keep a close eye on the number of calls for service to see if it continues to increase.

"It's certainly something I'm paying attention to. ... It's creating more of a workload for officers," he said.

Six fewer rapes, 46 fewer aggravated assaults and 102 fewer burglaries occurred during the first six months of this year than in the same period last year. Police solved about 64 percent of the rape cases this year, a nearly 20 percent increase from last year.

Police also solved about 6 percent more robberies and nearly 5 percent more motor vehicle thefts, according to the report.

According to the report, 50 officers were assaulted from January to June of this year, a reduction from the 63 who were attacked during the same period last year.

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