Rise in 3 serious crimes

County sees more robbery, arson, vehicle theft

April 05, 2007|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,sun reporter

After a year with the lowest levels of serious crime in more than two decades, the number of robberies, arson and vehicle theft increased last year in Baltimore County, according to statistics released yesterday by county police.

Overall, serious crime was up more than 4 percent in the county last year, with robbery up about 18 percent, arson up nearly 16 percent, and motor vehicle theft up about 13 percent, county police said yesterday.

At the same time, those crimes were going down by about 2 percent statewide, according to the 2006 annual preliminary crime figures recorded by the Maryland State Police.

"Eventually, there had to be an increase," said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman. "In 2005, we had the lowest crime since 1980."

Several types of crime fell last year compared with 2005 in the county, according to the Uniform Crime Report.

Homicide was down to 34 last year from 40 in 2005, or by about 15 percent. Rape was down to 141 last year from 177 in 2005 -- a 20 percent drop -- and aggravated assault was down to 3,405 from 3,665 in 2005, or about 7 percent, according to county records.

Since 1980, when the county began to collect the data in a systematic way, last year's crime was at the second-lowest level, Toohey said. Only in 2005 were the numbers lower.

Serious crime dropped last year in all other jurisdictions in the Baltimore area, according to state police figures. In Anne Arundel County, it was down by nearly 2 percent; in Harford and Carroll counties and Baltimore City, it was down about 3 percent. In Howard County, the number of serious crimes dropped less than 1 percent, according to the crime index.

In Montgomery and Prince George's counties, serious crime was down nearly 8 percent.

The crime rate -- the number of crimes per 100,000 residents -- was not available for Baltimore County last year, Toohey said. But in 1990, there were 6,105 crimes per 100,000 residents, he said. In 2005, he said, there were 3,392 crimes per 100,000 people.

County police said they did not wait for the year's crimes to be tallied to adopt new strategies. In the fall, based on detectives' investigations and analysis of crime trends, more officers were positioned in areas where police believed robberies would occur next, Toohey said.

"We think it's gone a long way in reducing the number of robberies," he said.

During the first three months of this year, compared with the first three months of 2006, robberies were down about 30 percent, he said.

In the first quarter of this year, car thefts were down about 2 percent and burglaries were also down slightly from the first three months of 2006, Toohey said.

laura.barnhardt@baltsun.com

Baltimore County Crime

Murder 2006: 34 2005: 40 Rape 2006: 141 2005: 177 Robbery 2006: 2,084 2005: 1,765 Aggravated Assault 2006: 3,405 2005: 3,665 Burglary 2006: 4,752 2005: 4,589 Larceny theft 2006: 18,022 2005: 17,324 Motor vehicle theft 2006: 3,429 2005: 3,024 Arson 2006: 361 2005: 312

Source: Baltimore County police

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