Crime & Courts

Crime is up in Charlotte. Rapes, robberies and homicides all top 2018 levels.

Crime in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County increased by 5.3% through September of this year, with an 11.3% jump in violent crime, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Deputy Police Chief Gerald Smith said Wednesday.

Of 81 homicide victims through the period, 13 were killed over illegal drugs, 10 due to domestic violence and 24 during minor arguments between people who knew each other, Smith said. In the same period last year, there were 42 homicides.

Smith, at a news conference to release quarterly crime statistics, cited numerous initiatives intended to curb crime, including the mid-August re-launch of a violent crime initiative to reduce gun-related crimes. The effort has netted 31 arrests, 16 seizures of illegal guns and 10 stolen gun seizures, the chief said.

“A lot of these guns that wind up in the hands of suspects or criminals have all been stolen from cars of legal gun owners,” Smith said at a news conference at CMPD headquarters.

He said 565 legally owned guns were stolen from cars through Sept. 30, up 18%.

Despite a shortage of about 180 officers, however, ”enforcement activity is up,” according to the deputy chief:

Officers made over 13,000 arrests through Sept. 30, up 5%.

Police arrested 35 more repeat violent offenders, a 46-percent increase in such arrests.

Officers took more than 1,500 illegal guns off the street, about 200 more than the same period last year, a 15% increase.

CMPD responded to 300,000 calls for service, or 4,500 more than last year through Sept. 30.

“This department is working hard, but we cannot do it alone,” Smith said. “We cannot be the only ones in the criminal justice system to bear that load. Public safety is a shared effort equally throughout the system and throughout the community. We are all in this together.”

In other crime stats through Sept. 30, according to CMPD:

Robberies were up 15.2% -- 1,520 this year to 1,319 a year ago.

227 rapes were reported, compared to 213 last year, for a 6.6%. increase

3,502 aggravated assaults were reported through Sept. 30, compared with 3,215 a year ago, for an 8.9% increase.

Burglary was up 7.6%, 4,373 compared with 4,063, with home burglaries falling 4.3%, 2,567 from 2,681. Commercial burglaries were up 30.7%, 1,806 to 1,382.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.