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Baltimore County crime down 18% from last year, although vehicle thefts up slightly in coronavirus pandemic

Crime in Baltimore County and emergency calls generally have decreased during the coronavirus pandemic, dropping 18% in the first four months of 2020 compared with last year, police say.

However, police are warning about vehicle thefts, the one category of crime that has increased this year, although slightly.

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Calls to the county’s 911 call center have decreased each month from January through April this year, with the largest drop recorded in March and April, when Gov. Larry Hogan began closing nonessential businesses and issued a stay-at-home order.

Calls in March declined 8.2% compared with March 2019, said Tiffany Connor, assistant chief at the county’s 911 call center. In April, call volume was down 27% from April 2019, with 49,014 calls made to 911.

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From Jan. 1 to April 30, the most recent data available, there were 11 homicides, compared with 13 homicides at this time last year, Baltimore County’s deadliest year on record with 50 murders.

Aggravated assaults with weapons, hands or feet also are down from last year, said police spokeswoman Sgt. Vickie Warehime. Officers responded to reports of 839 aggravated assaults from January through April 2020, a 19% decrease from the 1,036 assaults committed in the first four months of 2019.

Attempted and forcible rape fell 31.3%, from 128 in 2019 to 88 in 2020, Warehime said.

Burglaries of businesses and residences, including attempted burglaries, are down 36.9%, falling to 582 between Jan. 1 and April 30, from 923 in the same four months last year.

From March 5, the day Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency brought on by the pandemic, to April 5, burglaries were down 58.9% compared with the same one-month time frame in 2019, Warehime said.

“You’ll see some crimes drop because [no one] can commit them,” she said.

Would-be burglars know that they don’t have the opportunity to steal from homes “if everyone is quarantined [and] the majority of folks are home,” Warehime said.

The closure of nonessential businesses also might factor into why commercial burglaries are down, she said.

“Stores are closed so we aren’t going to respond to a shoplift in progress or armed robbery,” because those calls generally aren’t happening, she said.

Motor vehicle thefts have increased marginally, by 1.1% from the first four months of 2019, or five more cars than the 476 reported last year. Many of those cars had unlocked doors or keys were left inside the vehicle, Warehime said.

Warehime said thefts from vehicles have started to spike this month. Eight car thefts were reported in a few hours in the Essex precinct alone on Sunday, May 10. Several suspects had walked through the unit block of Urbanwood Court, the 800 block of Dorsey Avenue and the 400 block of Virginia Avenue in neighborhoods along Eastern Boulevard, pulling car door handles in driveways and on residential streets.

Warehime cautioned residents to lock their vehicles and remove valuables from them.

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Other crime prevention tips can be found online.

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