Moore Crime Rate Down for 2009
Moore County, like most others in North Carolina, experienced a drop in crime last year.
Statewide, crime rates fell to their lowest levels since 1984, according to statistics released by the state Department of Justice.
Reports of crime across North Carolina dropped by 8.8 percent in 2009, while violent crime dropped by 12.5 percent, according to statistics released last week. It is the sharpest single year drop in crime rates since North Carolina began statewide crime reporting in 1973.
In Moore County, reports of crimes decreased more than 8 percent, falling from 2,992 per 100,000 residents in 2008 to 2,743 last year, according to state statistics. Violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) fell more than 30 percent from 315.4 per 100,000 residents to 231.7 last year. Property crimes (burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft) dropped more than 6 percent from 2,676.4 per 100,000 to 2,511.6 last year.
Moore County Sheriff Lane Carter credited the decrease in crime to the hard work and persistence of law-enforcement officers throughout Moore County and the state.
"It's a continued effort of always trying to achieve better," Carter said in an interview Friday. "If you look at the past seven or eight years, we (all of Moore County) are down pretty good compared with surrounding areas. There are a lot of neighboring counties that have lower populations and higher crime rates."
Statewide, the rate of violent crime per 100,000 residents has dropped 12.5 percent, according to reports submitted by law enforcement agencies across the state. Rates remained unchanged in one violent crime category - rape- while rates for three other violent crime categories fell, with murders down 19.1 percent, robberies down 17.6 percent, and aggravated assaults down 10.7 percent.
The rate of property crimes - burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft - decreased by 8.4 percent statewide. Reports of motor vehicle theft fell 25.8 percent, while reports of larceny dropped 8.5 percent and reports of burglary fell 3.9 percent. Juvenile arrests for index crime offenses fell 10 percent, while adult arrests for those offenses were down 4 percent. Juvenile arrests for all crimes dropped 11 percent, while adult arrest for all crimes fell 3 percent.
"A lower crime rate is good for North Carolina's economic development, our safety and our quality of life," state Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a news release. "But no amount of crime is acceptable, and we must continue our focus on better technology, tougher laws and better prevention.
"There are also crimes that these numbers don't reflect, such as some computer crimes and crimes connected with prescription drug abuse."
Carter said prescription drug abuse is a "problem that is going to continue to be an issue in Moore County."
In another development on the crime-fighting front, the state legislature enacted Cooper's plan to help solve cold cases and catch criminals sooner by allowing law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples from suspects charged with certain felonies.
DNA samples collected by cheek swab will be run against DNA taken from unsolved crimes to look for matches, and stored to compare against evidence collected from crime scenes.
"Law enforcement is constantly confronted with new crime trends, and that's why we must make sure that officers have access to the best in crime-fighting technology, like DNA," Cooper said.
Carter praised the legislation, saying that will "make a lot of difference in allowing law enforcement to solve crimes," by making it "easier to identify subjects."
North Carolina's DNA database, which currently includes samples from all convicted felons thanks to a 2003 law pushed by Cooper, has helped solve more than 1,400 cases. The database also helps exonerate wrongly accused suspects. Adding DNA from arrestees to the database is projected to crack as many as 100 unsolved murders, rapes and other violent crimes in just the first year alone.
"Catching criminals and solving cases are critical, but the best way to fight crime is to prevent it from happening in the first place," Cooper said. "We must continue to look for innovative ways to keep kids from turning to gangs and crime, and to keep ex-offenders from becoming repeat offenders when they leave prison."
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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