South Charlotte

Matthews crime up slightly

Matthews crime statistics for the first six months of 2008 show a two percent increase in total crime over the first six months of 2007.

Police officials released the statistics last week. The only crime category that showed an increase was larceny.

“We're a town of 26,000 people and are continuing to grow,” said Matthews Police Chief Rob Hunter. “We have a number of new businesses here; and, second to I-85, we have one of the most heavily traveled roadways in the state (U.S. 74). I'm extremely pleased with the current statistics.

“The biggest issue we have to deal with in Matthews is the perception of safety,” Hunter said. “We want people to know they are safe in their community. They need to know how to protect their property and to watch out for their neighbors, but they don't need to live in fear every day.”

The statistics show that the rate of all offenses except larceny has either dropped or remained the same.

However, larceny rose 21 percent. Hunter says that's because larceny is the category that includes car break-ins, a crime he says is mostly preventable if folks would follow a few simple rules.

“A big focus for us this year will be car break-ins,” he said. “I know people get tired of hearing this, but if you will lock your doors and not leave anything valuable in view, then the rate will drop dramatically. Thieves only break in if they see something they want.”

The percent of drug arrests and DWI arrests, mostly misdemeanor, rose sharply, but Hunter said most of that increase was due to more intensive traffic enforcement.

Matthews police also handled 18 percent more calls for service during the first half of this year. Some were alarm calls, many of which were false. Hunter says that problem is being addressed through community education and working with alarm companies to make sure they adequately train their customers.

“Suspicious” calls – the ones from citizens regarding suspicious persons and vehicles – rose 16 percent compared to last year, and Hunter says that is a good thing.

“I tell people all the time, ‘There is no such thing as a wasted call to the police.' If people see something out of the ordinary or something that makes them uncomfortable, they need to call us,” Hunter said.

“If turns out to be totally innocent, that's okay. It demonstrates that neighbors are watching out for neighbors. But many times those calls are the way that we catch criminals.”

Hunter says that though there may be a spike in crime in the greater Charlotte area, his department is taking steps to prevent that crime from spreading to Matthews. But they need the community's help.

“Our plea to the community is to help us help you. There are only 60 of us and 26,000 of you. Ultimately, every citizen is responsible for the safety of their own community,” Hunter said.

“The police are here to support you in any way we can and arrest the bad guys, but it takes all 26,000 of us to make a safe community.”