Despite record number of homicides, Wilmington sets new record low for crimes in 2020

Despite record number of homicides, Wilmington sets new record low for crimes in 2020
The Wilmington Police Department presented the 2020 Crime Statistics (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - At a presentation of 2020 crime statistics by Wilmington Police Department Chief Donny Williams to Wilmington City Council, he reported that despite there being a record high number of homicides, there was also a record low number of overall crimes.

The crime rate in the City of Wilmington is down 54.2% from 2002 to 2020; meanwhile, the population has increased 52% in the same time period.

In 2020, there were 285 fewer Part 1 crimes, which is an overall reduction of 6.75%. This represents a new record low since 1993.

Part 1 crimes include murder, robbery, aggravated assault, violent crime, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft, arson, and property crime.

In 2020, there was a record of 22 homicides, an increase of 10 over 2019.

“We’ve had them in places that we normally do not have homicides,” said Williams referring to homicides on Oleander Drive, Carolina Beach Road and the 2300 block of Market Street. “They’re all over the place, but one thing I can say is in some cases there was some form of nexus, some relationship there, between the suspect and the victim in the ones that we have resolved.”

While there were 10 more murders, 15 more robberies, nine more aggravated assaults and nine more arsons than in 2019, there was a total of 285 fewer Part 1 crimes in the other categories.

Criminologists have suggested the pandemic is the common factor in the increase in homicides nationally, citing idle hands.

“I would say, and this is my theory on it, the pandemic,” Williams said. “These things have increased nationwide, and that’s the only thing that has impacted everyone on the national level.” Williams added it could also be connected to a nationwide shortage of police, resources being thinly stretched during the protests earlier in the year, and an increase of guns on the street.

Wilmington Police Department also reported a 78% clearance rate of homicides in 2020, compared with a national clearance rate of 63%.

Williams noted WPD has five unsolved homicide crimes at this time and said they were really close to solving one of them.

He emphasized the benefit of the new app for reporting crime saying the Tip 411 app is a resource where people can share information and remain completely anonymous.

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