Statistics show slowdown in serious crimes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Tough economic times have taken a toll on crime.
Major crimes across the board in Salisbury have declined this year, with the biggest decline coming in burglaries.
Salisbury Police Chief Mark Wilhelm sees a direct link between the economy, the high rate of unemployment and fewer home burglaries.
“There are a lot of people at home. There are a lot of people out of work,” Wilhelm said. “Because of their financial situation they don’t have the means or need to go anywhere.”
From 2006 to 2008, burglaries continued to increase, hitting a high of 580 for all of 2008 ó an average of 48 per month.
Through the first 10 months of this year, police investigated 337 burglaries ó an average of 34.
Other property crimes ó auto theft, larceny and robbery ‚ are also running behind those for 2007-2008.
The whole gamut of crimes, ranging from murder to larceny, is down according to statistics compile by Mike Dhooghe, crime analyst with the police department.
Last year, police averaged investigating 222 cases per month. Through October, the case load was running 158 per month.
The number of murders show little change from prior years.
“Our murders stay pretty constant,” Wilhelm said. “A couple of years we had eight. That’s extremely high for us.”
While many of the major crime statistics may end the year at a record low, Wilhelm expects to see a boom in robberies as the holiday season approaches.
Like the holiday shopping season, the period from Thanksgiving to the end of December is the prime robbery season. Businesses, especially banks, are likely targets.
While the numbers of major crimes are on a decline, Wilhelm has no doubt, it will turn around. “If they go up, they come down. If they go down, they will go up. We don’t get too excited over a big drop,” he said.