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Crime numbers up in Washington County for 2001

January 27, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Crime in Maryland rose 4 percent in 2001, but Washington County's numbers were up only 1.5 percent, according to preliminary Uniform Crime Report figures released last week by Maryland State Police.

In Hagerstown, the total number of offenses committed in 2001 climbed nearly 11 percent, with high numbers in rape, robbery, aggravated assault and motor vehicle thefts.

"What's interesting is that we are still second from the bottom in crime totals in comparison with cities about our size," Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said.

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The cities of Cumberland, Frederick, Annapolis, Salisbury, Bel Air, Laurel and Cambridge all had higher crime numbers in 2001, Smith said. Only Westminster's numbers were lower.

In 2001, total offenses committed in Hagerstown numbered 1,928, compared to 1,740 the year before.

"We saw a big increase in larcenies after the new shopping center opened up west of Hagerstown," Smith said, referring to the Centre at Hagerstown on U.S. 40.

In 2001, there were 70 robberies in Hagerstown, compared to 54 in 2000 and 86 the previous year. Assaults went from 121 in 1999 to 152 in 2000, then down to 150 in 2001, Smith said.

"Drugs are pushing all these numbers," Smith said.

Countywide, assaults soared to 399 in 2001- a 15 percent rise from the 346 in 2000. There were 280 assaults reported in Washington County in 1999.

"The mobility of criminal activity is quite a new phenomenon," Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades said.

Rental cars stolen from here are ending up in New York, Mades said. And large thefts committed by people who come off the interstates, steal and then hop right back on are occurring at shopping centers.

Mades agreed with Smith that most of the crimes are drug-driven.

Thefts dropped slightly to 2,156 in 2001 in Washington County - compared to 2,184 in 2000 and 1,960 in 1999. Rapes in 2001 climbed to 28, compared to 21 reported the year before.

The total number of crimes reported in the county in 2001 was 3,657, according to the report. In 2000, that number was 3,602, which accounts for the 1.5 percent drop. In 1999, the number of crimes reported was 3,298.

While criminal activity of any kind is of concern, Maryland State Police Lt. Greg Johnston said, as barrack commander in Washington County, he is most upset about the number of highway fatalities occurring locally.

"We had 26 fatalities last year and now this year, we already have three," he said. "Fifteen of the deaths last year were alcohol-related and 18 weren't wearing their seat belts."

And since most of them were local people, Johnston said it is obvious that the word is not getting out about traffic safety.

The number of homicides in Washington County went down from six in 2000 to three in 2001. The number of homicides was four in 1999.

The three homicides in 2001 were:

  • Cassandra McNabb was smothered by Terry Lynn McNabb in 1991 but the death of the 2-month-old child wasn't ruled a homicide until June 2001, when the child's mother came forward. Terry McNabb, the child's father, was sentenced to five years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

  • Tony Allen Lewis was shot and killed in a Robinwood Court apartment on Feb. 14. Steve Miletic was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

  • William Allen Weicht was shot and killed in the Log Cabin Inn in Hancock on Dec. 26. Shawn Edward Golden was indicted by a Washington County grand jury on one count of reckless endangerment.
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