A report released by the North Carolina Attorney General’s office earlier this month revealed that the state’s crime rate was down in 2012; however, Anson County’s individual rate of reported crimes in 2012 increased from 2011. Anson County Sheriff Tommy Allen said that while an increase in crime rates may seem to be cause for alarm, the numbers are actually somewhat “deceptive.”
“What you have to remember about this report is, it’s by 100,000 population,” he explained. “So, in Charlotte, you divide the number by 10, but in smaller counties like Anson, where our population is only about 26,000, you have to multiply the number by four. So the rate may make it sound like there’s more crime than there actually is.”
The result is an index crime rate of 4,941.4 per 100,000 in 2011, with 393.5 classified as violent crime, and a 4,547.9 property crime rate. The numbers increased in 2012 to a total crime rate of 5,935.4 per 100,000, including a 575.9 violent crime rate and 5,359.5 property crime rate. For comparison, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg metro area’s index crime rate of 37,825 was up 3 percent from 2011’s rate of 36,794.
According to the official summary released Sept. 5 by the N.C. Department of Justice, the rate per 100,000 people of crime offenses reported to law enforcement agencies throughout the state decreased 4.4 percent during 2012. The rate of violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, increased 0.6 percent statewide. In 2012, the murder rate in North Carolina decreased 3.8 percent, the rape rate decreased 1.0 percent, the robbery rate decreased 3.0 percent, and the aggravated assault rate increased 2.4 percent.
Property crimes such as burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft were also down 4.9 percent across the state. The rate for burglary decreased 7.9 percent and larceny decreased 3.4 percent. The motor vehicle theft rate decreased 5.8 percent. In a press release, Attorney General Roy Cooper said he welcomed lower crime rates but added he’s worried that reduced budgets and upper income tax cuts mean law enforcement isn’t getting the resources needed to fight emerging crime trends.
“When you ask people how they want their tax dollars invested, public safety ranks very high on the list,” Cooper said. “We must invest in well-trained officers and modern crime fighting tools and if we don’t I’m concerned that public safety will pay the price.”
Sheriff Allen said that sometimes, crime rates can increase because more citizens feel comfortable reporting crimes. “When the public believes they have good law enforcement, reports of crime go up,” he explained. “But if they don’t trust their local law enforcement, they tend to shrug and say, ‘It won’t help to report it anyway.’ So it’s kind of a double-edged sword.”
The sheriff also offered a few tips to help Ansonians avoid becoming victims of crime. “Of course, crime happens, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself,” he said. “It’s kind of common sense, but if you’re at home by 11 at night, you’re a lot less likely to be involved in crime. It’s also a good idea to choose who you associate with wisely. I’ve had some mothers tell me their sons got involved with drug dealers and ‘got caught.’”
For more information about 2012 crime statistics, go to www.ncdoj.gov. Click “Crime,” then “View Crime Statistics.” To view or print a summary of 2012 crime statistics, click “2012 Annual Summary Report.”