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Statistics reveal 20% increase in robberies Police say comparison to 1994 may be skewed because of icy winter


*TC Robberies surged by 20 percent, while overall crime increased by a "moderate" 3.7 percent, Baltimore County police said in releasing second-quarter crime statistics for 1995.

Police also reported an increase in crime of nearly 5 percent from January through June, compared with the same period in 1994.

Police had cited the icy winter of 1994 for an unusually low crime rate, which they said also accounts for much of the increase noted in the comparison with the first quarter of 1995. But robberies -- up 16.6 percent in the first quarter of 1995 -- have continued to rise dramatically from April through June compared with the same period last year.

There were 576 robberies in the second quarter, compared to 479 in the same period last year.

"Often, strings of robberies can be attributed to individuals and groups," said police Chief Michael D. Gambrill, noting that two arrests last week had accounted for 35 incidents. "This is a step in the right direction," he said.

Through June this year, there have been 1,159 robberies -- the highest number for the period since 1980. Businesses were the target in 490 cases.

The increase in robberies over the first six months of 1994 was 18.39 percent, police said.

Police said the icy winter that kept many people indoors last year still skews the total crime picture for the first half of 1995.

"It's not that 1995 is the oddity, it's 1994," said Cpl. Kevin B. Novak, a county police spokesman. "The numbers were down quite a bit in the first quarter of 1994, which doesn't make it much of a valid comparison to a normal year of crime that we're experiencing now."

Police said that in terms of volume, total crime for the six-month period increased from 39,219 incidents in 1994 to 41,171 this year, but pointed out that 77 percent of this year's increase occurred during the first quarter.

The only categories experiencing decreases in the six-month period were rape, from 126 cases in 1994 to 124 this year; arson, from 199 cases in 1994 to 193 this year; and auto thefts, declining nearly 16.8 percent from 3,100 cases in 1994 to 2,581 this year.

But other violent crimes such as murder increased by four cases from 10 in 1994 to 14 this year and aggravated assault increased by 106 cases, from 2,270 in 1994 to 2,376 this year.

Burglaries rose by 6 percent, from 3,172 cases in 1994 to 3,362 cases this year. Thefts also increased, by 5.8 percent, from 11,395 cases in 1994 to 12,057 this year.

The department credited special police units such as the joint County-City Auto Theft Task Force in reducing auto thefts.

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