Balto. Co. crime falls

November 19, 2008|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,

Crime is at a 20-year low in Baltimore County, with declines in nearly every category of serious offenses, the county executive announced yesterday.

Homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults and other violent crimes have dropped by 20 percent from 2002 through last year, James T. Smith Jr. said in Towson. By the end of this year, he said, the number of homicides is expected to drop by 40 percent compared with 2007.

In addition, Smith said, crime in the first half of 2008 fell significantly compared with the same period in 2007. Of the eight most serious crime categories, seven saw a reduction between Jan. 1 and June 30, Smith said, with rape down by 6.2 percent, robbery by 8.5 percent, aggravated assault by 2.5 percent, burglary by 5.8 percent, and motor vehicle theft and arson, each with a decrease of 15.8 percent.

The only category that continues to rise in the county is thefts from autos, especially GPS navigation systems and metallic components such as catalytic converters, the latter a trend driven by increasing demand for scrap metal. Thefts of the anti-pollution devices were up 22 percent in the first half of the year.

Clearly pleased by the declines, Smith said that in the first half of the year the county Police Department had a clearance rate of 74 percent for violent crimes and more than 80 percent for homicides.

In 2007, Smith said, there were 36 homicides. This year, there were 19 by the end of October.

"We are on a pace to have 23 homicides for the entire year," he said. "Should this trend continue, that would not only be the lowest number of homicides in the past 10 years, it would be the second-lowest since 1980."

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