Crime dropped significantly in Smithfield from 2009 through 2013.
The number of serious crimes in Johnston County’s second-largest town fell 33 percent in four years, from 1,106 in 2009 to 742 in 2013, according to crime data released in September by the state. From 2012 to 2013, crime fell 14 percent.
In the past year, Smithfield saw the largest drop in larcenies – from 596 in 2012 to 510 in 2013; that’s a decrease of 14.4 percent. Burglaries fell 14.8 percent – from 162 in 2012 to 138 last year. Aggravated assaults fell too – from 68 in 2012 to 47 in 2013.
Crime did climb in two categories in 2013. Robberies jumped 43.7 percent – from 16 in 2012 to 23 in 2013. And the number of motor-vehicle thefts climbed by two.
Overall, the rate of violent crime in Smithfield dropped from 771.6 crimes per 100,000 persons in 2012 to 646.2 in 2013. Property crimes, including larceny, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson, also fell, from 7,071.5 per 100,000 persons to 6,106.7.
Smithfield had no murders in either year and just one reported rape in both years.
In a letter to Town Manager Paul Sabiston, Smithfield Police Chief Michael Scott credited his department and its community partners with the drop in crime.
“This is great news, as this means our community continues to be safer year after year and our quality of life for our residents and our economic partners continues to improve,” Scott wrote.
The reduction in crime was a community effort, Scott said. The police department partnered with the school system, Johnston Community College and the Smithfield Housing Authority to cut back on opportunities for criminal activity, which Scott said contributed significantly to the crime drop. He also credited the planning department for strict code enforcement and his own department for expanding its community-policing program.
“The Smithfield Police Department will continue its ongoing efforts to make Smithfield a safe community in which to work, live and play,” Scott said.
Countywide, crime fell 18 percent from 2012 to 2013 – the biggest drop of any county in the Triangle. The county’s rate of violent crime in 2013 was 165.7 incidents per 100,000 people, according to the state. That was down from 187.9 crimes per 100,000 people in 2012.
Johnston’s property-crime rate was much higher in 2013, at 2,042.3 crimes per 100,000 people, but the rate still fell from 2012, when it 2,502.
Statewide, the overall crime rate is at a 30-year low. Property crime fell 7.2 percent in 2013 from the year before, and violent crime fell .4 percent.
Sabiston, Smithfield’s town manager, told the Town Council at a recent meeting that he was encouraged by Smithfield’s drop in crime.
“This is a great turnaround and great job by our police department,” he said. “That’s good news, and you don’t get that very frequently.”