Crime

Are you safer in Charlotte than you were in 2016? Violent crime is on the rise.

Deputy Chief Jeff Estes discussed Charlotte’s rising homicide rate at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Westover Division on Wednesday.
Deputy Chief Jeff Estes discussed Charlotte’s rising homicide rate at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Westover Division on Wednesday.

You’re less likely to be a victim of property theft in Charlotte than you were in 2016, but police have seen a worrying increase in violent and gun-related crime, according to the most recent statistics available from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The biggest jump, by far, is in the murder rate.

Between March and June 2017, Charlotte’s homicides increased 113 percent compared to the same period in 2016.

“Of course we’re not satisfied with that number,” Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said. He said the department has seen particular increases in types of homicide that are hard to suppress – those that involve domestic violence or arguments. Police have said people are too quick to bring out guns to settle disputes.

CMPD hasn’t classified any of the 2017 homicides as gang-related.

Domestic violence-related homicides have already reached the mid-teens, compared to nine in all of 2016. Two married couples have been killed together. In both cases, the suspect is a relative.

More than 30 percent of Charlotte’s homicides this year are still unsolved.

The city has also seen increases in other types of violent crimes. Rape is up by about 20 percent, from 138 between March and June 2016 to 165 in the same period this year.

Estes said CMPD sees many cases in which the victim and suspect connected on social media before meeting in person. He said about 85 percent of victims and suspects are known to each other.

On crime overall, Estes pointed out that police have made some progress – aggravated assault fell by almost 5 percent, residential burglary decreased by 10 percent and overall larceny and larceny from vehicles declined.

“However, we’ve seen some increases in areas that are concerning to us,” Estes said.

Along with the jumps in murder and rape, robbery increased by about 8 percent, and car theft went up, too.

The third quarter of the year is already halfway complete, but Estes said it’s too soon to predict whether crime will continue to increase. If homicides continue to happen at the same pace for the rest of 2017, Charlotte will see a year-end total higher than any since the early 1990s.

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester

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