Baltimore County Now
Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger
As much as our smart phones and GPS gadgets make life easier for all of us, they also can be a great resource for thieves and other criminals to help them steal from us. Below are some scams which are making the rounds. Don’t become a victim. Read on and protect yourself and your family.
WHILE YOU’RE AWAY
A family went on vacation and left their car in the long-term parking lot at the airport. Someone broke into the car. Using the information on the car’s registration, kept in the glove compartment, the thieves drove to the people’s home and burglarized it.
What should you do?
If you are going to leave your car in long-term parking, do not leave the registration/insurance cards or your remote garage door opener in the car.
Someone had their car broken into while they were at a football game. Things stolen from the car included a garage door opener, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard. When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked. The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house and then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game so they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and how much time they had to clean out the house.
What Should You Do?
DON’T put your home address in the GPS! Put a nearby location (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know where you live if your GPS is stolen.
A woman’s handbag, containing her cell phone, credit cards, wallet, etc., was stolen. Twenty minutes later when she called her husband from a pay phone telling him what had happened, he said, “I received your text asking about our PIN number and I replied a little while ago.” When they rushed to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text ‘hubby’ in the contact list and got hold of the pin number.
What Should You Do?
Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list. Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Dad, Mom, etc. And very importantly, when sensitive information is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back. Or just don’t text sensitive information. Also, when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them. If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going places to meet ‘family and friends who text you.
Police Chief James Johnson
When we talk about crime statistics, we too often overlook clearance rates – the numbers that tell us whether a police agency is doing a good job of solving crime.
Here in Baltimore County, our clearance rates are excellent, well above the national average.
In fact, the Baltimore County Police Department’s clearance rates are so good that the U.S. Department of Justice has featured BCoPD in a September 2013 publication, “Homicide Process Mapping, Best Practices for Increasing Homicide Clearances.”
This 54-page study examined seven law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. with outstanding homicide clearance rates, seeking to understand what these agencies are doing right. BCoPD is one of these model agencies.
The introduction to the study says, “Although the national clearance rate average has continued to drop, some individual law enforcement agencies have excelled in clearing homicides, with clearance rates of 80 percent and higher. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) wanted to understand how some agencies were so successful in their homicide investigations.”
Researchers from the Bureau of Justice Assistance visited our Homicide Unit to examine our staffing, management, resources and investigative strategies. The publication will be used by other law enforcement agencies interested in improving their homicide investigations and clearance rates.
In law enforcement parlance, “clearance” means that a case has been solved because the offender has been identified and either arrested, has died or the homicide ruled justifiable.
The DOJ study focused on 2011, a year in which BCoPD’s 83.3 percent homicide clearance rate far exceeded the national average (62 percent).
More recently, in 2012, the national clearance rate for homicide in 2012 was 62.5 percent. Baltimore County’s clearance rate was 95.7 percent.
Our clearance rate for all Part I violent crime – the most serious crimes, including rape, robbery, and aggravated assault – has exceeded the national average going all the way back to 1995.
Here are the most recent 2012 clearance rates for Part I violent crimes other than homicide:
• Rape -- BCoPD, 69.7 percent; national average, 40.1 percent
• Robbery – BCoPD, 48.4 percent; national average, 28.1 percent
• Aggravated assault – BCoPD, 84.1 percent; national average, 55.8 percent
In 2012, our clearance rate for all Part I violent crime – homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – was 71.9 percent, or 25.1 percent higher than the national average.
The clearance rates for property crime typically are lower than for crimes against people because there often is no contact between the victim and the suspects; detectives may not even have a suspect description to use during their investigation. Even with those challenges, clearance rates for Part I property crimes such as burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft were 14.1 percent above the national average.
What accounts for our success in clearing crime? The DOJ study answers this question quite well: “A stronger professional fabric, the investment of time and effort to build trust within the community, a willingness to challenge the status quo in performing investigative tasks and” – this last point is especially important – “a professionally developed and trained investigative workforce.”
BCoPD has worked hard over the years to give investigators the best technological tools, including skilled crime analysis personnel, forensics and other support services.
But the ability to solve crime starts and ends with hiring, training, retraining and retaining quality investigators – academically advanced law enforcement officers who understand that building a quality investigation is like crafting a fine piece of furniture. It takes time, care, precision and persistence.
The credit for Baltimore County’s outstanding crime clearance rates rests largely with our detectives and patrol officers. The work our investigators are doing is as good as, if not better than, that of any agency in the nation. I hope that our citizens are as appreciative of this as I am.
Police Chief James Johnson
I’m pleased to announce some extremely good news for Baltimore County: Our Year End Crime Report for 2012 is finished, and these new statistics show that crime is down across Baltimore County.
It’s down overall, and it’s down in virtually every single category. Crime dropped against the previous five-year average – the best way to get an accurate picture of our crime trends. It also fell compared to 2011, in almost every category.
These are some of the best numbers I’ve seen in my career – even when you consider that crime has been falling over the past several years.
The report we released today contains official data, compiled in accordance with the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting system.
Part I violent crime, the most serious types of violent crime, fell by 11.1 percent against the previous five-year average. Every category of Part I violent crime dropped except rape, which increased by a single case. Criminal homicide, robbery and aggravated assault are all down.
Part I property crime – burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson, fell by 7.9 percent against the five-year average.
Part II crimes – everything from trespass to drug offenses – fell 5.2 percent.
Overall, crime in 2012 fell by 6.7 percent against the five-year average.
Looking at our 10 precincts, crime is down in every precinct except one. Some of these precinct level decreases are astounding. In White Marsh, for example, crime fell 14 percent against the five-year average. In Woodlawn, the drop is 11.6 percent.
In Towson, we saw an increase because of an increase in certain kinds of theft –shoplifting, theft from vehicle and theft from building. In the weeks and months to come, you will see law enforcement in Towson maintain an omnipresence and work even more closely with private security, both in the downtown area and elsewhere in the retail areas, so that we can bring these theft numbers down. We are adding three additional officers to patrol the entertainment district, an enhancement that will free up a car for patrol elsewhere in the precinct.
I cannot stress enough the significance of this crime report. You would have to go back 30 years to find crime rates as low as the ones we’re seeing now. Here’s another figure: Since I became Chief of Police, six years ago, the most serious kinds of violent crime have been reduced by 26.8 percent. Meanwhile, our case clearance rates continue to be far higher than the national averages.
This success doesn’t happen by accident. I thank everyone who has contributed – from the County Executive to our community partners to the many county agencies that support us every day. Most of all, I thank our officers, whose commitment, tenacity and expertise are the foundation of our achievements.