Baltimore County statistics show crime decreased in 2013

Baltimore County police reported overall declines in crime in 2013, but the area that includes Towson saw increases, according to statistics released Friday.

Total crime, as well as violent crime, fell more than 5 percent against previous five-year averages. Homicides, which dropped by seven cases to 20, were the lowest since 1976. Police also noted a 13.3 percent decline in rapes and 9.3 percent drop in aggravated assaults in 2013.

When compared with year-to-year figures, overall crime across the county fell 1.4 percent. County officials said comparisons to averages over five years give a more accurate picture of crime trends.

In a statement, Chief James W. Johnson said the declines were "a testament to the quality of police personnel and the soundness of law enforcement strategies that involve identifying trends, understanding why trends occur and directing resources to the problem."

Statistics show the Towson Precinct was the only one to report an increase in crime compared to the five-year average. The Towson Precinct includes the county seat and communities north of Baltimore to the Baltimore Beltway, from Interstate 83 to Perring Parkway.

Robberies rose in that precinct by 10.8 percent, aggravated assaults increased by 15.2 percent, burglaries were up by 10.7 percent, and thefts by 2.4 percent.

"Overall, I am very pleased with the county statistics. I think we have taken some important steps this year to not only really lower the incidents of crime in Towson, but also as we accelerate growth in the downtown core," said Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson.

Towson, which has a population of about 55,000, is expected to grow in coming years with more development projects underway, bringing more residents and visitors. In June, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the county would improve nightttime lighting and add police officers to the area. This month, a 15-screen Cinemark theater, part of the 150,000-square-foot Towson Square development, opened.

Last year, police also reported increases in some categories of crime, including property thefts, in Towson. The department responded by assigning three additional police officers to the precinct.

Countywide, the only crime category to see an increase in 2013 was robberies, which rose by 2.7 percent.

The Wilkens Precinct, which includes Catonsville, Lansdowne and Halethorpe, and the Essex Precinct, which includes Middle River, saw the greatest declines in overall crime last year compared to the five-year averages.

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