CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Overall crime numbers remain higher in Charlotte than last year, but police say they are making progress thanks to officers who target repeat offenders and help from the community.
By the end of September, this year’s property crimes had increased by 3.8 percent over the same period last year, and violent crime had increased by 12.7 percent, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.
But in a press conference Thursday, Deputy Chief Doug Gallant said that, aside from aggravated assaults, crime numbers remain below the department’s three-year averages.
In 2010 and 2011, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department announced that the crime rate had fallen to the lowest numbers since it had started keeping uniform records in the 1970s.
Then, during the first three months of 2012, police saw a 16 percent increase in crime over early 2011. Gallant said on Thursday that rates seem to be improving because by the end of September, the increase was only 5 percent higher than last year.
During the first nine months of 2012, police said, 40 homicides were reported across Charlotte – the same number reported during that time last year.
Police said they’d received reports of 1,312 robberies this year, an increase over the 1,134 robberies reported by the end of September last year.
The total number of larceny cases increased by about 8 percent, and aggravated assaults increased nearly 12 percent.
Police have seen declines in arson and burglary cases. Incidents of arson decreased from 147 to 137. Residential burglaries were down 6 percent while commercial burglaries were down 12.8 percent, police said.
Gallant said initiatives recently developed by CMPD are helping police put a dent in the number of repeat offenders on city streets.
The firearm by a felon tip line, launched in May, encourages people to give police information about the identity and whereabouts of felons carrying guns. Since then, police have received more than 1,600 calls from tipsters, Gallant said.
Police also touted their Priority Offender Strategy Team Targeted Action Plan, a group assembled in early 2010 to combat crime across the city, particularly property crime.
The team focuses on offenders who commit “a high volume of crime” across the department’s 13 patrol divisions. The team’s work has resulted in 1,000 arrests since 2010, said Sgt. Marc Robson. Nearly 70 percent of those were felony arrests.
Robson said the team’s focus on jailing property crime offenders is important because Charlotteans are more likely to become victims of property crime than victims of violent crime. And, he said, many criminals who have committed violent crimes in the past have turned to property crime because it’s often more lucrative and generally brings less prison time.
“They’re not the worst of the worst, but they’re the most active,” Robson said.