Crime in Baltimore County increased by 8.3 percent -- and violent crime by 10.3 percent -- in the first quarter of 1995, police announced yesterday.
The increases include a 16.6 percent jump in robberies, with the 583 incidents representing the highest first-quarter figures since Business robberies made up 43.7 percent of the total in that category this year.
Police officials said the weather may be a factor in the statistical increase -- good weather this winter, compared to the harsh conditions that kept many people indoors in the icy winter of 1994.
The overall increase in reported crimes, from 18,186 incidents in 1994 to 19,688 this year, was "not unexpected," officials said. They said the numbers reflect a comparison to unusually low numbers when an icy winter was believed to have suppressed some of the "normal criminal activity."
To buttress that view, the police department noted that crime in the first three months of 1995 rose only by 2.4 percent when compared to the average of 19,232 cases reported during the same period for the past five years.
Among the categories of violent crime, in addition to robberies, homicides increased from five cases to nine this year; rapes increased from 61 to 72; and aggravated assaults rose from 1,055 to 1,124.
Property crimes also showed increases in every category -- except for auto theft, which declined by 10.8 percent. It was the first time in more than a year that a decrease in auto theft has been noted in the county. A record 6,256 vehicles were reported stolen for all of 1994.
"While any increase is of concern to law enforcement officials and the community at large, we are encouraged by the decrease in vehicle thefts," Police Chief Michael D. Gambrill said yesterday. "The sharp rise in these crimes experienced over the past several years has apparently been positively impacted by several strategies we've implemented, including the creation of a county-city joint auto theft task force."
Chief Gambrill credited the Regional Auto Theft Team (RATT), created in January, with 97 arrests and the recovery of 91 stolen vehicles.
There were 1,315 vehicles stolen in the first quarter, compared to 1,474 during the same period last year. For the first quarter, and following a consistent trend, 82.3 percent of all stolen vehicles were recovered -- which police officials viewed as proof that vehicles are seldom used for illegal sale or dismantling.
In other property crimes, burglaries increased by 8.6 percent, arson increased by 14.9 percent and theft by 12.4 percent.
The police also noted a 9.1 percent increase in assaults on police officers, up from 185 cases in the first quarter last year to 201.
Thirty-three officers were reported injured.