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Attorney General Cooper announces drop in crime

Release date: 9/9/2004

Raleigh: Reports of crime across North Carolina fell by 2.4 percent last year thanks to strong law enforcement, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.

“Our efforts to fight crime, including good detection work by law enforcement and tough sentences for violent criminals, are paying off,” said Cooper. “These numbers show that we’re continuing our long-term trend of lower crime and safer communities across our state.”

The rate per 100,000 of crime index offenses reported in North Carolina decreased by 2.4 percent compared to 2002. According to law enforcement agencies across the state, the rate of violent crime per 100,000 North Carolinians dropped by 5.3 percent. The rates fell in all violent crime categories. Murders were down 10.3 percent and rapes decreased by 6.0 percent, while robberies dropped 3.3 percent and aggravated assaults declined 6.1 percent.

The rate of property crimes—burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft—fell 2.1 percent statewide. Reports of aggravated assault fell 6.1, burglary declined 3.6 percent and larceny decreased 2.2 percent. Motor vehicle theft increased 4.8 percent, and arson, which is not included in the overall property crime rate, dropped by 22.9 percent.

Calculations used population data from the NC Office of State Budget, Planning and Management.

“These numbers are encouraging, but we can’t let our guard down,” cautioned Cooper. “Criminals are continuing to find new ways to commit their crimes, methods that aren’t necessarily captured in these statistics.”

Cooper pointed to child predators, who are using the seeming anonymity of the Internet to lure children out of their homes. “Our computer forensics lab can help crack these cases and track child pornography and exploitation predators across the country,” he said. “We’ve got to give law enforcement the tools it needs to keep up with these hi-tech criminals.”

Among other pressing needs are more funding for DNA analysis and for efforts to bust drug labs.

During the recent session of the General Assembly, Cooper fought for and won an expansion of the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab to improve the efficiency of DNA testing that can help convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. Despite the SBI lab addition and some money for outsourcing unanalyzed rape kits, legislators did not grant requests for more experts for the DNA lab. Cooper believes that the legislature must address the problem during its next session by providing more DNA agents.

The SBI is also continuing to deal with a steady increase in the number of clandestine drug labs producing harmful methamphetamine. In 1999, the first year that meth labs were reported in North Carolina, SBI agents discovered 9 labs. That number has skyrocketed, with agents shutting down 177 labs in 2003 and 217 labs so far in 2004. Legislative approval of more SBI agents to bust meth labs and new laws that will put meth

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manufacturers behind bars will help. However, Cooper cautioned that the number of meth labs discovered in the state would likely continue to grow.

“Tougher penalties and more assistance for law enforcement to fight meth are an important step,” said Cooper, “But we can expect to uncover more of these secret drug labs as people learn to recognize and report them.”

For more information about 2003 crime statistics, go to Click “Crime and Law Enforcement,” then “Crime Statistics.” To view or print a summary of 2003 crime statistics, click “Annual Summary Report.” See “Offenses and Clearances by Agency” for other useful statistics broken down by region.