CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Overall crime is down in Charlotte for the first half of 2021, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).
Data compared by CMPD from Jan. 1, 2021, to June 31, 2021, to the same time period in 2020 showed that overall crime was down 6% from last year.
Property crime was down 9%. The data also includes a decrease of 21% in residential burglaries and a 26% decrease in commercial burglaries.
However, there was a 5% increase in thefts from motor vehicles from 4,619 in the first half of 2020 to 4,843 in the first half of 2021.
CMPD data showed there was also an 11% increase in vehicle thefts from 1,244 in the first six months of 2020, compared to 1,374 in the same timeframe in 2021.
According to CMPD, there is an alarming trend of firearms being stolen during vehicle thefts and break-ins. There have been 554 firearms stolen during these crimes so far in 2021, which is a 66% increase from last year’s 334.
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings urged the public to secure their firearms.
“What we’re seeing is firearms that are stolen are generally used in the commission of a crime,” said Jennings. “So, when those firearms are stolen out of someone’s vehicle, out of someone’s home, we’re seeing those firearms back on the streets being used in the commission of a crime.”
This July marks one year since Jennings was sworn in as CMPD Chief in July 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we talk about numbers being down, I don’t think it’s time to celebrate that,” said Jennings. “I think it’s time to look at how do we continue that downward trend.”
Even though overall crime numbers are down, CMPD data showed violent crime was up 5% in the first half of 2021 compared to the first half of 2020.
Homicides slightly decreased from 51 in the first six months of 2020. There were 50 homicides from Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 20201.
However, sexual assaults saw a sharp increase of 42% in the first half of 2021 with 155. That’s compared to 109 in the first six months of 2020.
Carmen Crape, victim advocate manager for the Sexual Trauma Resource Center with Safe Alliance, said it may have been difficult for some people impacted by sexual assault to reach out confidentially amid the pandemic.
“It was difficult for people to find a space that was secure for them to reach out safely, whether they were homeschooling their children or partners were home,” said Crape. “That made it a little more difficult for people to successfully reach out to resources and get help.”
Now that safety precautions are changing, more people are getting vaccinated, and more people are willing to interact with each other, Crape said survivors may feel more supported by family and friends to come forward to start the healing journey.
“People are now feeling I can safely report,” added Crape. “I can safely go to the hospital. I can safely talk to support systems and make a decision that makes the most sense to them.”
The mission of Safe Alliance is to provide hope and healing to those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault.
Crape said the Greater Charlotte Hope Line at (980)771-4673 has been receiving more calls from people looking for resources.
“We’re hopefully creating an environment where people feel safe and supported and understood in this process,” said Crape.
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