The overall crime rate decreased by nearly 1 percent compared to 2010. This marks the third year in a row North Carolina has seen its lowest crime rates in decades, in line with downward trends reported nationally. The state compiles annual crime statistics based on data provided by local law enforcement agencies across North Carolina.
Lee County’s Crime Index for 2011 increased, but remains below the state’s index.
The Lee County Crime Index—(combined by the SBI), contains numbers from both the Lee Sheriff’s office and Sanford Police —increased from 2,998.4 crimes per 100,000 people in 2010 to 3,071.2 crimes per 100,000 in 2011. North Carolina saw an overall decrease from 3.955.3 crimes per 100,000 in 2010 to 3,919.8 crimes per 100,000 in 2011.
According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, violent crimes consist of murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson. The crime index is population-based with the rate per 100,000.
The sheriff’s office saw the increase of property crimes because of an increase in the number of larcenies, motor vehicle thefts and precious metals thefts. With the cost of copper increasing, the department has seen an increase to a level it’s not experienced before.
The number of larcenies related to cooper and other metal thefts should hopefully come down with a new North Carolina law that goes into effect in October. Under the new law, companies will not only have to collect the name of the individual but also their license vehicle tag, a valid form of identification, the color, make and model of their vehicle and a photo or video must be taken of the item being sold.
Another driver of the increase in larcenies and motor vehicle thefts is the continued prescription pill abuse. The department sees prescription pill abuse a bigger problem than crack cocaine, since it’s widely available. In order for those users to afford them, many are turning to more crime, thus contributing to the break-ins and larcenies.
The sheriff’s office was able to bring down the number of burglaries over the past couple of years, falling from 262 in 2009 to 190 in 2010 and 150 in 2011. This is something that we’ve really concentrated on because it affects more people and our citizens more than anything else.
The annual summary reports can be found online:
Sheriff Carter continues to urge citizens of Lee county to be diligent at all times. People tend to leave valuable items in plain view inside their vehicles as they shop or do recreational activities. Although many think their vehicle is a safe place for valuables, a thief will often see these items inside vehicles and bust the windows to take them or enter the vehicle if it is unlocked. Many people also think their vehicle or valuables are safe if the vehicle is parked in the driveway, which is not the case. Citizens also are encouraged to record any serial numbers or special markings on their valuables (such as their drivers license number) in case a theft does occur, so the items can be positively identified if recovered later. “It’s often us, as citizens, that prepare the crime, the criminal then commits it.” Be diligent and don’t give the criminal a foothold. Don’t hesitate if you see something suspicious in your neighborhood or while out shopping. When in doubt, call us out!