An increased focus on gangs and high-crime areas helped spur a drop in violent crime in Harford County last year, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said last week.
Between 2004 and 2005, felony crimes - which include homicide, rape, robbery, assault and theft - fell by 19 percent, according to the department. The statistics do not include incidents that took place in municipalities or were investigated by other agencies.
The reductions came across the board, with the sheriff's office reporting declines in the number of rapes (54.3 percent), robberies (15.3 percent), assaults (20 percent), breaking and entering (27.7 percent) and motor vehicle thefts (32.6 percent).
The number of homicides was unchanged. Two homicides were reported in 2004 and two in 2005.
"The combined efforts of our deputies and the citizens of the communities we serve has resulted in a reduction of serious crime reported to the Sheriff's Office," Sheriff R. Thomas Golding said in a news release.
According to statistics provided by the Maryland State Police central records division (which do not include final 2005 statistics), violent crimes have been on a downward trend, after steadily rising between 1999 and 2002.
After increases of 16 percent and 8.5 percent in 2001 and 2002, respectively, violent crime declined about 10 percent in 2003 and held steady the next year.