WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Wilson crime rate drops

Police chart steady decrease in property crimes, but aggravated assaults rise

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The city of Wilson’s overall crime rate fell by nearly 8 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to newly released figures.

Wilson Police Sgt. Steve Stroud recently gave a presentation to city council members on 2017 figures for Part I crimes, which include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson as a part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.

“We certainly recognize the magnitude of the impact the crime rate can have in our community,” Police Chief Thomas Hopkins said in a statement. “We will always continue to seek opportunities to reduce the crime rate through short-term tactics and long-term strategies. We will continue to work with our citizens and local, state and federal partners to concentrate on violent and Part I crimes in an effort to ensure the safety of our community.”

Stroud said the eight categories are chosen because they are a series of crimes that occur regularly in all areas of the country. They are also some of the most serious crimes, which makes them more likely to be reported to law enforcement.

“The main philosophy at the police department is to reduce Part I crimes as well as reduce violent crimes all the while working with the community in different aspects,” Stroud said.

Overall, there were 2,003 Part I crimes reported in 2017 to the Wilson Police Department, a 7.9 percent decrease from 2016, officials said. This also falls in line with Part I crimes steadily declining within the city since 2012, Stroud added.

Wilson had seven homicides in 2017, matching the number investigated in 2016. The number of reported rapes increased from 11 to 12, according to police figures. Robberies slightly decreased from 98 to 93 cases in 2017.

Larcenies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts dipped in 2017. And arson cases were nearly cut in half — 12 reported in 2016 to just seven in 2017.

Police investigated 434 burglaries in 2017 compared to 532 cases in 2016 — roughly an 18.4 percent decrease. Larcenies also decreased by about 6.5 percent — from 1,168 cases in 2017 compared to 1,250 in 2016.

Motor vehicle thefts declined by roughly 12.7 percent with reported cases for 2017 at 110 compared to 126 cases in 2016.

Larcenies and break-ins, which are property crimes, represent about 80 percent of the crimes police investigate here. Those two classifications are significantly lower this year, which follows national and state trends, officials said.

“We are right in line with other law enforcement agencies across the country,” Stroud said.

AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS INCREASE

Aggravated assault is defined as an assault that inflicts severe or aggravated bodily injury, usually accompanied by a weapon, which could include a knife or baseball bat. Aggravated assaults increased by about 23.7 percent from 139 cases in 2016 to 172 cases in 2017.

Stroud added police made 126 arrests for aggravated assault type charges in 2017.

Stroud said the increase in aggravated assaults is in line with state and federal crime trends, which also reflected an increase between 2015 and 2016. He said that’s the latest data available for comparison because state and national statistics for 2017 won’t be available until October. But looking at a comparable city crime data, Greenville also saw an increase in aggravated assaults in 2017, he added.

Stroud said police believe one of the reasons aggravated assaults have increased is due to teenagers using firearms in altercations more often in addition to more investigative efforts in regards to shots-fired calls.

When police get out and aggressively investigate these types of crimes, they’ve been able to link them to other shootings, which in return makes their cases stronger for prosecution purposes, he said.

Charges that fall under aggravated assault include assault by pointing a gun, assault inflicting serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

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