Crime numbers show signs of a slowdown

After months of disappointment, police got to say Tuesday something they haven't been able to say for most of this year: crime is going down.

Although overall crime numbers for 2008 continue to be higher than in 2007, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department saw declines in most crime categories between June and July of this year and when comparing July of 2007 to July of 2008.

“Our officers are making a lot of arrests,” Deputy Chief Jerry Sennett said Tuesday. “But we're trying to make the right arrests at the same time. … We need to target the people who are causing us the most problems.”

The total number of crimes this year is still higher than the same period last year. But the year-to-date numbers – property crime is up 3.8 percent, violent crime is up 2.3 percent when compared to the first seven months of last year – are closer to the total numbers officers saw last year. Sennett said that if August numbers stay on the same track, the department may see crime continue to level off to 2007 numbers.

Among statistics for July:

Nearly one in every three crimes was a theft from an automobile – the crime most likely to affect someone in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The number of reported thefts from automobiles dropped 17.5 percent between July 2007 and July 2008. Thefts from autos also dropped 6.3 percent between June and July.

Through July, the number of homicides was 45, which equaled the number of homicides through July 2007. But by Tuesday, the number of homicides was 53, compared to 47 at the same time last year. Part of that increase was due to three homicides in three days last week.

Police also reported double digit drops in the total number of home and business break-ins. And victims reported fewer burglaries in the first seven months of this year than were reported through July 2007.