Reports of powdery white substances have kept Howard County police on their toes this fall, but officers were also busy last month fielding a higher-than-average number of calls about vehicle thefts, thefts from vehicles and several other categories of crime.
The Police Department's calls-for-service statistics show police responded to 11,039 phone calls last month and 10,248 in September. None of the categories showed a major increase, but police did respond to about 50 additional theft-from-vehicle calls - typically a warm-weather crime. There were 69 vehicle thefts last month, compared with 50 in September.
The department responded to about 50 fewer noise complaints last month than in September.
"Sometimes we see a slight increase or decrease in calls for service that don't really have any explanation," county police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said. "We had a spate of garage [break-ins] a few weeks ago, for example. It was just a handful, and now they've passed."
Llewellyn said most anthrax-related calls are factored into the calls-for-services statistics as "suspicious circumstance" cases. The department has fielded more than 380 such calls since early last month, Llewellyn said.
"Since the calls get routed to the Emergency Operations Center, patrol officers aren't overburdened with them," she said.
Maryland State Police released statistics Thursday detailing an overall drop in the crime rate in the Baltimore metropolitan region, which includes Howard County, between 1999 and 2000. The statistics are culled from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.
The Baltimore area saw 5.8 percent fewer violent crimes, including 10 percent decreases in breaking-and-entering and murder cases last year, compared with 1999. One of the few increases was in the category of motor vehicle theft, which rose about 7 percent.
The report shows that violent crime in Howard County was up less than 1 percent in 1999 and 2000, the statistics show. Reports of rape rose from 29 cases in 1999 to 37 cases last year, while the number of robberies dropped from 240 to 166.