Violent crimes, like murder, rape and robberies increased in 2013 in eastern Wake County, but police departments are also clearing the majority of those cases, information released in the State Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report shows.
The majority of crime in eastern Wake County still involves property crimes – specifically burglaries and larcenies – but violent crimes like rape and murder have gone up in all three eastern Wake County towns.
Knightdale police handled three more murders, one more rape and three more robberies in 2013 than in 2012. The town saw 13 fewer aggravated assaults.
Zebulon and Wendell police did not report any murders and Zebulon reported 13 fewer aggravated assaults in 2013 than in 2012. Zebulon reported the same number of rapes (one) and Wendell had one rape, which was an increase from 2012. Wendell’s police department dealt with eight more incidences of aggravated assault.
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Across the state, violent crime decreased by 5.4 percent. Murder decreased by 3.8 percent, rapes decreased by 10.2 percent, robberies were down 1.9 percent and aggravated assault was down by 6.4 percent.
Local increases were balanced by a fairly high clearing rate though, SBI’s data shows. Clearing an incident means an arrest was made, although it does not report convictions.
Data for Knightdale shows the town’s department managed to clear two of three murders.
In April, Nathan Holden was charged with killing Angelia and Sylvester Taylor and injured their adult daughter and his wife, Latonya Holden just outside of Wendell. The murder was handled by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and does not count in Wendell’s statistics.
Knightdale responded to two separate murder incidents, although one victim actually committed suicide after committing a murder. Knightdale police Chief Lawrence Capps said since the suicide happened in conjunction with the murder, it counted as a murder.
But he said the department still regards the 300 percent increase in murders notable, even if the large number is misleading. The town had no murders in 2012.
“Any increase … certainly gives us cause for concern,” Capps said. “We want to do everything we can (to stop that crime). They do happen from time to time.”
Wendell residents report more often
Wendell saw the biggest overall increase in crime. The department’s total crime index went up 67 points, from 119 in 2012 to 186 in 2013.
The total crime index counts the number of murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assault, burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts. It measures the number per 100,000 residents, which inflates eastern Wake County towns, which do not have more than 15,000 residents in any town.
Wendell police Chief Bill Carter said even though the number is higher, it is a reflection of the department’s focus on being proactive rather than reactive.
“In partnership with the community, we’ve been more assertive in addressing crimes,” he said. Empowering residents to report crime means smaller crimes get reported more often, like larcenies. Larceny was the most reported crime in Wendell, according to the SBI’s data.
Carter said he attributes that directly to a string of vehicle break-ins last year.
Zebulon crime decreases
Zebulon has the second-highest crime index in eastern Wake County though it has the smallest population. The U.S. Census estimates the population to be less than 5,000.
Even so, Zebulon was the only local department with a decrease in total crime index. It fell 19 points, from 354 to 335.
Knightdale had the highest crime index in 2013, at 486. It also has the largest population in eastern Wake County, with an estimated 13,291 in 2013.
In 2012, Zebulon police Chief Tim Hayworth had a special team of officers who would patrol Zebulon. He doesn’t have the team anymore because he doesn’t have enough officers, but it’s seemed to have a lasting effect.
“I believe it’s a combination of just the way things happened in 2013 and I believe we were reaping benefits from a strong proactive policing effort in 2012,” Hayworth said.
“When we have crime in Zebulon, we go after that with a vengeance.”
Departmental policies in Zebulon also contribute to the department’s ability to clear crime.
Zebulon cleared 15 of 21 incidents of aggravated assault. Knightdale cleared eight with 11 arrests and Wendell cleared only three out of 12 aggravated assaults.
Information about Wendell robberies was not reported. Zebulon managed to clear all but two robberies and Knightdale cleared three of seven robberies.
Hayworth said his officers are encouraged to solve crimes within 72 hours and if not, officers have to check on cases every 10 days until the case is solved.