DURHAM — Police Chief Jose L. Lopez reported Monday that crime was down 5 percent in the first half of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011.
The percentage of decline was the same for overall crime, violent crime and property crime, Lopez said in his quarterly report to the City Council, with homicide showing the greatest decline, 35 percent, from 17 to 11.
There have been four more homicides since the end of June, Lopez said, but the total to date, 15, is still below the 19 reported by this time a year ago.
“This is a report, in my opinion, that’s moving in the right direction,” said Mayor Bill Bell.
Responding to Bell’s question about recent incidents on the American Tobacco Trail, Lopez said police presence has been increased and the department is buying several all-terrain vehicles to use on the city’s trails.
“We’ve had five unfortunate (recent) incidents, we have thousands of users every day,” he said.
“The more citizens that are out there using the trail, the safer it is,” said Councilman Steve Schewel, who added that he has seen “a lot of police presence” when he has run and cycled the ATT recently.
The homicide decline and a 14 percent drop in robberies were enough to offset a 29 percent increase in rape, from 35 cases to 45.
“But we have no indication of any serial rapists,” Lopez said. Most of the cases involved acquaintances, he said.
The increase could be due in part to Durham’s new Special Victims Unit, Lopez said. The SVU began in January to deal with sex crimes and child abuse, and rape victims may feel more comfortable reporting to police with the unit available. Overall, violent crimes fell from 845 incidents to 805. Lopez said the department has also cleared three cold-case homicides this year.
Vehicle theft was up 22 percent, from 264 cases to 322, but declines in burglary and larceny left property crime down overall.