Balto. County crime up 6%

Data show violent incidents at highest level in 4 years

Robberies bulk of increase

Homicides drop by two

serious assaults rise 233

October 07, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Violent crime rose nearly 6 percent in Baltimore County last year, its highest level in four years, with robberies responsible for the bulk of the increase, an analysis of Police Department data shows.

Statistics in the department's 2001 crime report indicate that a homicide occurred on average every 11 days, and that a robbery occurred every five hours and a rape happened about once every 1 1/2 days.

Still, a county resident was about twice as likely to have a mailbox or lawn ornament vandalized than to be attacked, police data show.

"We often see a decline for a few years, and then the numbers go back up slightly," said Bill Toohey, a Police Department spokesman. "That's normal."

While some major crime categories - defined by the FBI as everything from homicide to arson - showed an increase, none reached the numbers of the mid-1990s, when county crime reached record levels.

Last year, the county had 31 homicides, a drop of two from 2000. The number of rapes dropped by five to 217. Serious assaults rose by 233 to 4,556, according to the county crime report. The number of robberies jumped from 1,582 to 1,723 - an increase of 141.

Robberies showed the largest percentage gain - 9 percent - in the violent crime category, the data say.

Baltimore County police were several months late in reporting last year's crime statistics. Officials blamed the delay on Year 2000 computer modifications that slowed the entry of crime data. But officials anticipate being able to compile the 2002 data more quickly, Toohey said.

The department performs a computer analysis of crime trends in specific neighborhoods and countywide on a daily basis. The results are updated on the county's crime information hot line, which is accessible to the public.

Violent crime on the east and west sides of the county remained nearly even, with homicides and aggravated assaults slightly higher in the Essex and North Point precincts on the east side and rapes and robberies slightly higher in the Woodlawn and Garrison precincts on the west.

"This area is densely populated. But we actually have more nuisance-type crimes," said Capt. Gordon Skinner of the Essex Precinct.

Countywide, bank robberies nearly tripled, while gas station holdups nearly doubled last year, compared with 2000. More robbers also used guns, knifes or physical force, according to the report.

Property crime increased slightly - by less than 3 percent - between 2000 and last year. Dodge Neons, Jeep Cherokees, Honda Accords and Dodge Caravans were the vehicles stolen most often. Those models account for more than 10 percent of the 3,277 cars stolen in the county last year.

Nonresidential burglaries during the day more than doubled from 112 reports in 2000 to 278 last year, while residential burglaries during the day increased about 88 percent from 402 reports in 2000 to 759 last year. The total number of burglaries increased by nearly 12 percent last year, with the Woodlawn and White Marsh precincts reporting the largest numbers.

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