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NC crime rate climbs slightly in 2006

Release date: 6/15/2007

Violent crime up nationally more than in North Carolina, AG Roy Cooper says

Raleigh: Reports of crime across North Carolina rose by 0.6 percent in 2006 reflecting an increase in reports of both violent and property crimes last year, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.

“While our long-term trend of falling crime rates continues, we should be troubled that reports of violent crime have risen in our state,” Cooper said at the release of the state’s 2006 crime statistics. “As the nation continues its battle against terrorism, we must be mindful that state and local law enforcement still needs help to catch criminals and stop this trend.”

The overall rate per 100,000 of crime index offenses reported in North Carolina increased 0.6 percent compared to 2005. The rate of violent crime per 100,000 North Carolinians rose 0.9 percent according to reports to the State Bureau of Investigation from law enforcement agencies across the state. Rates rose in two violent crime categories—rape and robbery—and fell for murder and aggravated assault. Murders dropped 8.7 percent and aggravated assaults declined 0.9 percent while rapes increased 5.8 percent and robberies were up 4.2 percent.

The rate of property crimes—burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft—increased by 0.5 percent statewide. Reports of motor vehicle theft climbed 3.2 percent, while burglary reports increased 0.7 percent. Larceny rose slightly by 0.1 percent, and arson, which is not included in the overall property crime rate, dropped 1.5 percent. Adult arrests for index offenses fell 3 percent, while juvenile arrests for those crimes also declined 3 percent.

Despite the rise this year, North Carolina’s long-term trend shows falling rates for both violent and property crimes over the past ten years. For example, the rates of murders, rapes and robberies are all down compared to a decade ago.

North Carolina’s increase in violent crime reported in 2006 mirrored a trend seen by law enforcement agencies across the country, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which tallies national statistics. Preliminary national statistics released this month by the FBI show that violent crime rose by 1.3 percent nationwide last year, including a 0.6 percent rise in the violent crime in the south.

“Although other states face greater increases in crime rates than North Carolina does, I’m concerned about any increase in crime,” said Cooper. “We must continue fighting to give law enforcement the technology and tools they need to get lawbreakers off our streets.”

Cooper is working to establish a Triad Regional Crime Lab to help law enforcement have access to the latest technology to solve crimes. He is asking legislators for 12 new SBI experts to analyze drugs, computers, fingerprints and other evidence at the proposed Triad Lab, in addition to eight more SBI field agents who would work across the state to fight violent crime and drugs.

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To catch more murderers, rapists and other criminals, Cooper is also asking legislators for four additional DNA experts for the main SBI Crime Lab in Raleigh, where the DNA section has more than quadrupled in size over the last few years. That increase led to the clearing from local law enforcement shelves of hundreds of untested “cold-case” rape kits and resulted in solving nearly 80 of those cases through DNA testing. Cooper and the SBI also expanded the database of convicted offender DNA to include all felons, more than tripling the size of the database the SBI can search to solve cases. Searches of the improved database netted more cold hits last year than in the entire first decade of the program combined, with hits to the database so far this year on pace to exceed last year’s total.

“There are other dangerous crimes not reflected in these statistics, such as child predators and pornographers who are using the Internet to exploit children,” said Cooper.

Cooper is pushing a new law that would toughen punishment for child pornographers and predators and give law enforcement better tools to fight criminals who seek to hurt children. He is also asking legislators for four new SBI computer crimes agents to focus on stopping child predators.

Cooper recently launched a new website that allows people to track sex offenders who live near them. Through the new sex offender website, available at www.ncdoj.com, people can sign up for email alerts when a sex offender moves into their neighborhood or near their child’s school and can view maps that pinpoint offenders who live nearby.

“Fighting crime takes tougher laws, more help for law enforcement, and new tools to help communities and families stay safe,” said Cooper.

The North Carolina Uniform Crime Reporting Program is part of a nationwide effort administered by the FBI. Calculations for the crime statistics used population data from the NC Office of State Budget, Planning and Management. For more information about 2006 crime statistics, go to www.ncdoj.com. Click “Crime and Law Enforcement,” then “Crime Statistics.” To view or print a summary of 2006 crime statistics, click “Annual Summary Report.” See “Offenses and Clearances by Agency” for other statistics broken down by region.

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