Crime & Courts

Crime ticks upward again

Crimes reported in the first half of 2015 are up compared to the same period last year, police announced this week.

Property crime was up 5.6 percent. Violent crime increased by 12.3 percent. In the first six months of this year, police investigated 28 killings, a 40 percent jump from last year.

It’s the second straight quarter that crime has jumped. In the first three months of this year violent crime was up 21 percent.

Here is some background on the crime increase:

▪ Last year, CMPD launched an summer initiative to bring down violent crime when children are out of school. They expended resources and manpower, even bringing in officers from less violent districts to help track down repeat offenders and to serve warrants on people wanted for the most serious crimes. The initiative helped push violent crime down. But the department hasn’t made the same commitment this year.

▪ It’s the first bit of bad news for new chief Kerr Putney. Fairly or not, police chiefs are usually judged by the crime numbers. Since he took over the department in June, Putney has said he wouldn’t enact major changes to how CMPD polices the city.

▪ Police say the overall crime rate has been trending downward since 2008. “While population and crime incidents have increased, the crime rate (per 100,000 people) has decreased since 2009. The downward trend does provide some context and a more longitudinal view, but police tend to emphasize that viewpoint when crime increases.

▪ Police have said they are focusing on robberies, one of the only crime categories to decrease (by 1.3 percent.) Besides that, police have not said what they are going to do to bring down crime, but there are some steps you can take to make it less likely that you or your family are victims.

Police say most property crimes, for example, are crimes of opportunity.

Last month I wrote about how locking your car doors can save you from the city’s most prevalent crime – thefts from automobiles.

And Deputy Chief Jeff Estes, in announcing the crime drops said nearly half of all car thefts occur when the keys are inside the car.

Similarly police have said prolific home burglars keep an eye out for keys hidden under rocks or in other hiding places to let themselves into homes. Home burglaries increased 9 percent during the first half of the year, but changing how you keep from being locked out could decrease your chances of being a target.

Police have also launched their Be SMART larceny project. Officers on patrol look for unattended items or situations where people can have their things stolen, and drop a card by the phone or purse when the owner isn’t looking.

Police hope the cards will help people see how easily their belongings could be stolen.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: 704-358-5046, @CleveWootson