Crime down in county in first half of the year

Report shows overall drop of 6% compared with 2002

December 03, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

If the current trend continues, Baltimore County could see crime decline for the second consecutive year, according to an analysis of Police Department data for the first six months of this year.

From January to June, overall crime dropped nearly 6 percent compared with the corresponding period a year ago, including 34 fewer rapes, 67 fewer robberies and 449 fewer burglaries, the data show.

"We feel some comfort when we see across-the-board declines, especially since our population was increasing during that time," said Chief Terrence B. Sheridan. "But we have to continue to be vigilant."

The chief credited community and business support, cooperative witnesses, good police work and programs such as citizens on patrol for the drop in crime.

Violent crime declined 3.4 percent in the first half of the year, police statistics show, despite a spike in homicides. Seventeen were reported over the period, compared with 10 the year before, an increase of 70 percent.

However, three of the killings took place in previous years and weren't classified as homicides until this year, police said. All but two of the killings have been solved, said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman.

Of the precincts, Parkville had the largest increase in violent crime - about 38 percent - with 36 more aggravated assaults reported and three more rapes, according to the data. Towson saw the largest decline - 23 percent - in the first six months of the year.

Overall, property crime dropped by 12.3 percent. There were 255 fewer motor vehicle thefts, 1,069 fewer thefts and 44 fewer incidents of arson.

The report shows that police solved about 81 percent of violent crimes and about 30 percent of property crimes.

"Hopefully, this trend will continue," Sheridan said, noting that is difficult to predict how the year-end numbers will look while in the midst of the holiday season.

Last year, violent crime in the county declined less than a half of 1 percent, compared with the year before.

Property crimes dropped by 2 percent.

It will likely be several months before year-end totals are available.

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