Violent crime fell nearly 10 percent last year

Most of drop attributed to a decrease in assaults

Howard County

March 18, 2003|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Violent crime decreased last year in Howard County by nearly 10 percent over 2001, but calls for service and motor vehicle thefts increased during that time, Howard County police said yesterday.

Most of the drop in violent crime could be attributed to the steep decrease in aggravated assaults, quarterly crime statistics show. There were 202 violent crimes reported last year, a nearly 25 percent decrease from the year before.

Other drops occurred in burglaries, which fell nearly 18 percent, to 1,293, and in thefts, which declined about 6 percent.

"It shows that from year to year, we can have an impact on what's going on in the county," said Sherry Llewellyn, a police spokeswoman.

Some crimes experienced increases. The number of reported rapes last year was 37, three more than the year before. Robberies increased to 212, a 7 percent rise over the previous year, and 29 more automobile thefts occurred in 2002 - a total of 611 - than the year before.

Police also received about 129,000 calls for service - a nearly 9 percent increase over 2001.

Officials attributed part of the total increase for service to the high volume of calls during the sniper scares.

Llewellyn said that while police would monitor crime rates, "there was nothing that really stood out to us."

The statistics show police solved a greater percentage of crimes last year, compared with 2001. Last year, police solved nearly 54 percent of the county's rapes, compared with about 41 percent in 2001. They also solved nearly 82 percent of the aggravated assaults last year, compared with 75 percent in 2001.

Police have cautioned against reading too much into quarterly crime statistics, but the yearlong analysis was a solid sign that "the crime rate continues to drop," Llewellyn said.

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