Violent crime up in NC, but crime down overall in 2012

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s overall crime rate fell again in 2012 while the violent crime rate rose slightly, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Thursday.

The overall rate of index crime per 100,000 persons in North Carolina decreased by 4.4 percent compared to 2011 and is the state’s lowest since 1976. The rate of violent crime per 100,000 North Carolinians rose 0.6 percent according to reports submitted to the State Bureau of Investigation from law enforcement agencies across the state. Among violent crime rates, rape decreased 1 percent, robbery dropped 3 percent and murder decreased 3.8 percent, while aggravated assault rose 2.4 percent.

The rate of property crimes—burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft—decreased by 4.9 percent statewide. The larceny rate fell 3.4 percent, the motor vehicle theft rate fell 5.8 percent, and the burglary rate fell 7.9. The rate of arson, which is not included in the overall crime rate, rose by 1.6 percent.

Juvenile arrests for index crime offenses are down 12 percent, while adult arrests for those offenses remain unchanged from 2011. Juvenile arrests for all crimes are also down 12 percent, while adult arrests for all crimes are down 1 percent.

This marks the fourth year in a row that North Carolina has seen its lowest crime rate in decades and continues the state’s long-term trend of falling crime rates. Compared to a decade ago, the overall crime rate is down 20.3 percent and the rate of violent crime is down 21.4 percent.

Cooper expressed concern that the downward trend in overall crime statistics won’t continue without sufficient resources to law enforcement.

“A growing state needs to put more cops on the street, more investigators in the field, and more scientists in the crime lab, but we cannot do that if we don’t adequately fund law enforcement,” Cooper said in a statement.

In expressing his concerns, Cooper cited crimes not included in the index crime rate that continue to grow, including:

  • State Bureau of Investigation agents raided a record number of meth labs in the state last year (460) as the simpler, one-pot method for making small amounts of the drug continued to spread.
  • Prescription drug abuse now kills more people than illegal drug use in North Carolina, with more than 1,100 North Carolinians dying from prescription drug overdoses last year.
  • Cybertips of possible online child pornography and exploitation reported to the SBI’s Computer Crimes Unit by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have more than tripled in the past two years.

Cooper also says the State Crime Lab, which saw a 15 percent increase in case submissions to more than 42,000 for fiscal year 2011/2012, is overburdened. The Lab currently has 124 forensic scientists working cases for the entire state, he said. The latest state budget includes no money for additional DNA analysts despite a 64 percent increase in DNA submissions over five years.

North Carolina crime statistics are provided by the SBI as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, a nationwide effort administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

For more information about 2012 crime statistics, visit ncdoj.gov or click here for the 2012 Annual Crime Statistics Summary.