Crime rates were down slightly here in 2015, according to police department statistics, but drug and fraud offenses were up significantly over the same time period.
Violent crime saw a 24 percent drop from 2014, from 25 incidents to 19. Police Chief Lawrence Capps said that because the number of violent offenses is low, it’s difficult to see patterns there from year to year.
“Just one or two incidents either way can spike it,” Capps said.
There were no murders or rapes reported in either year. The violent offenses were either robberies – six in 2015 compared with 10 in 2014 – or aggravated assaults – 13 in 2015 compared with 15 in 2014.
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The town’s last homicide was in 2013.
The drop in overall crime was 3 percent, from 1,043 incidents in 2014 to 1,015 in 2015, according to a department quarterly review from the fourth quarter of 2015.
“Considering where we are, the numbers are clearly something to celebrate,” Capps said.
Total larcenies were up 5 percent, from 349 to 365, but burglaries were down 20 percent, from 55 to 44.
Larcenies are consistently the most reported crime plaguing the city, according to the report. They were down in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, from 116 to 86.
Capps said the department has seen an increased problem with larceny by transients from outside Knightdale at big-box stores at the Shoppes at Midway Plantation. He said the department has a strong relationship with loss-prevention teams at local stores and works with them to let them know how they can ban someone caught thieving to keep the shoplifter away for good.
Area stores also have a loss-prevention organization that meets quarterly, and Capps sends department representatives to the meetings to talk about prevention methods and how stores can work together to decrease stealing.
Capps also credits communication with townspeople for the reduction in burglaries, which have seen a steady decline in recent years. Social media has helped get out the word about reducing the risk of burglary by doing things like taking in mail or setting up neighborhood watches.
Residents can also sign up with the department for house checks by officers.
The department has also been promoting the use of the Nextdoor app to get neighbors more connected and better able to watch out for each other.
Capps attributes at least part of the rise in drug arrests to having observant officers who have been proactive in catching offenders.
Most offenses are simple possession or possession of drug paraphernalia, but Capps said the department is working to identify where the drugs are coming from.
“It makes me wonder if we have a trafficking issue within the town of Knightdale,” he said.
Also, he said, he’s noticed a turn away from opiates in pill form such as Oxycontin to heroin as the pills have become harder to obtain.
Fraud is a growing problem everywhere, he said, as criminals go online.
“Identity theft is so prevalent,” Capps said.
In 2015, there were 26 identity fraud cases where the department either investigated or took a complaint and made a referral to another jurisdiction.
In many cases, the victim doesn’t live in Knightdale, and may even live overseas, but a crook has used his credit card here, making it challenging to investigate the incident.
Public education about the problem is important too, Capps said.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” he said.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826
Crime in Knightdale