By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Serious crime in Montgomery County increased 5.3 percent last year, led by an 8.5 percent jump in thefts, according to police statistics released this week.
Thieves targeted the growing number of motorists who leave electronic gadgets in their cars. More than 2,400 GPS navigational units were stolen from cars in 2008, compared with more than 900 the year before, police said.
Thefts from cars "is the crime you are most likely to be the victim of in Montgomery County," said Police Chief J. Thomas Manger.
Despite the overall increase, crime dipped in Montgomery in the final three months of the year as the number of murders, rapes, assaults and burglaries dropped below levels of the same period in 2008.
Burglaries fell 10.9 percent, robberies fell 5 percent and rapes fell 18 percent during those months. Thefts increased from October to December, compared with the same period a year ago, but declined 3.6 percent from the July to September period.
Manger said he is pleased with the year-end decline but played down its significance, saying he remains concerned about issues such as robberies and violence among Hispanic gangs.
"You need to look at the longer-term trends to see if you've turned the corner," Manger said.
For the full year, serious crime increased virtually across the board, from 25,629 incidents to 26,975, and violent crime also increased. Police recorded 21 murders in 2008.
For statistical reasons, they had to count two victims -- the adopted daughters of Renee D. Bowman, whose bodies were found in a freezer in September -- who probably were killed in 2007, according to police.