Murders and other violent crimes have risen sharply in the city during the first three months of this year, and an increase in stolen guns may be partly to blame, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police announced Tuesday.
Overall, violent crimes in the year’s first quarter are 21 percent higher than the same period in 2014. Nearly every category of violent crimes saw an increase over the first quarter of 2014.
Homicides are up by 80 percent, rapes by 34 percent, aggravated assaults by 33 percent and burglaries by 3 percent, a CMPD report shows.
Only robberies decreased, dropping 3 percent compared to this time last year, said CMDP Deputy Chief Katrina Graue.
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Graue said the increase is not limited to one section of town or one issue, pointing out that of Charlotte’s 18 homicides this year, five were related to domestic violence and six to drugs.
“I think we’re struggling across the city,” she said.
By this time last year, there were 10 homicides with 42 for all of 2014, the lowest yearly total since police began tracking uniform crime statistics in 1977.
Rob Tufano, CMPD spokesman, said the department could lower the violent crime rate by year’s end.
“We believe that our focus, sense of urgency and the continued engagement from the community will have an impact on lowering violent crime,” Tufano said.
Graue said controlling aggravated assaults has been particularly difficult. There were 200 more aggravated assaults this year compared to the same time last year.
“This may be related to the number of firearms stolen,” Graue said. “There are more guns on the street, which creates more opportunities.”
Gun theft is up 30 percent and Charlotte police officers have seized 375 firearms, she said.
Graue said CMPD asks that citizens lock up their guns and report suspicious behavior.
She said calls from residents were up 6 percent, making it CMPD’s busiest first quarter for receiving calls in the past five years.
Charlotte crime for January through March:
▪ Violent crimes, up 21 percent compared to last year at this time.
▪ Homicides, up 80 percent
▪ Rapes, up 34 percent
▪ Aggravated assaults, up 33 percent
▪ Burglaries, up 3 percent
▪ Robberies, down 3 percent
▪ Property crimes, up 4 percent.