Crime rates in Arlington went up last year, according to statistics released last week by Arlington police.
The county's murder rate, already low, dropped, as did the rate of most violent crimes across the county. But the rate of thefts across the county increased, <a href=http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=7217">in many categories</a>.
To a certain degree, that was to be expected, police said: robbery rates increased around the Washington region, they said, and Arlington's increase was relatively low. In addition, while crime rates have increased over the last four years, they still are far from the highest local crime rates in the last 20 years, affecting Arlington in the first half of the 1990s.
In addition, some numbers seemed artificially elevated, they said, due to a change in the crime reporting standards used by county police.
For the last 70 years, the Uniform Crime Report system was the standard used to collect crime statistics across the country. But this year Arlington police adopted the National Incident-Based Reporting System, introduced nationally by the FBI in 1985.
The change means that some numbers will appear to increase, as crimes are reported as they affect individuals, rather than as a single incident. That can mean increased numbers where one crime affects more than one person, as with a street robbery of three people at one time.
<b>IN ARLINGTON,</b> that could affect murder numbers in 2002. A Jan. 20 triple homicide at the Cherry Blossom Travelodge, 3030 Columbia Pike, would have been reported as one incident under UCR, whereas it would appear as three separate murders under the NIBRS system.
Zachary Cooper Sr., 23, a sergeant in the US Marine Corps, was charged with all three of the January murders.
Under the NIBRS, there has already an increase from last year's homicide rate in 2002, with four murders, including the Travelodge incident and another murder late last month.
On May 27, police found Latresha Williams, 26, dead in her apartment in the 2500 block of South Adams Street. Police say the suspect was Williams’ husband, Tedero E. Pearson, 31, of Washington, DC. Pearson died after police officers opened fire on him, due to his failure to drop his weapon, they say.
Matt Martin, spokesman for the Arlington Police Department, said that NIBRS will also mean faster reports of county crime rates. Chief Edward Flynn hopes to release crime rates for the first half of 2002 by early July, he said.
<b>HOMICIDES IN ARLINGTON,</b> in fact, were one category of crimes that fell in the county last year, dropping from seven incidents in 2000 to three in 2001, along with aggravated assaults, dropping from 163 in 2000 to 138 in 2001.
That decrease of over 15 percent bucked a trend in the Washington region, police said, where aggravated assaults increased in other jurisdictions.
However, rapes increased 3 percent from 2000 to 2001, but police said that the small number of actual crimes, rising from 26 to 29, makes smaller increases appear disproportionately significant.
Thefts accounted for the biggest jump in overall crime rates from 2000 to 2001. Burglaries in Arlington jumped by almost 20 percent, rising from 414 in 2000 to 490 in 2001. Larceny rates also rose, with increases in shoplifting, stolen car parts and thefts from commercial buildings. Stolen car rates, on the other hand, fell, from 790 to 702 in 2001.
Overall, the crime rate in Arlington jumped by only 3 percent, rising from 6,740 incidents in 2000 to 6,956 serious incidents in 2001 Rates have been increasing since 1999, with an overall crime rate of 6,162 serious incidents - the lowest crime rates in the last 20 years.
At 6,956 serious crimes last year, Arlington is still well under the rising crime rates of the 1980s and early 1990s.