With the unofficial beginning of summer, crime in Baltimore so far this year is down in nearly every category, mirroring a national trend as most large cities defy predictions that crime will rise in a struggling economy, the Baltimore Sun reports. Total crime is down 9 percent, including an 11 percent drop in violent crime. Property crime, which rose last year for the first time in 15 years, is down 9 percent so far this year. Homicides, which for much of the year were up by a considerable margin, have largely stabilized in recent weeks.
Police commanders attribute the reductions in violence to the “second phase” of a strategy to target violent offenders, which officials say led to a 20-year low in homicides last year. More focused efforts have led to drops in serious crimes, despite fewer arrests. There are also signs that the city could be starting to feel the pinch from the economy. Residential burglaries spiked to start the year, and car break-ins are up 12 percent. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said his research shows a direct correlation between crime and the economy over the past several decades, and he sees no reason why this recession will be any different. “A number of cities have experienced crime declines and in some cases they are continuing,” Rosenfeld said. “But I would be surprised if we saw a break in this recession in the connection between crime rates and the economy that we’ve observed over the last several decades.”