Crime increased 3 percent last year in the Town of Smithfield.
Newly released crime data from the Smithfield Police Department revealed increases in several types of crime and decreases in others.
2016 was a rollercoaster year for the police department. During the first six months of the year, overall crime was up 22 percent compared to 2015, while the second half of the year saw a sharp decrease. Police Chief Keith Powell took over in May after former Chief Michael Scott was named the new town manager.
Powell said crime was up in many police departments last year and he was pleased with such a small increase. “Yes, I was satisfied seeing that crime has risen all over the country.”
According to the year-end report, the number of reported business robberies fell from 23 to 17 (-26%), individual robberies dropped from 14 to 12 (-14%), and assaults fell from 66 to 52 (-21%).
Some areas of concern for police were burglaries. Residential burglaries increased from 69 in 2015 to 74 in 2016 (+7%), non-residential break-ins rose from 20 to 23 (+15%), and commercial business burglaries jumped from 16 to 41 (+156%).
In response to increased break-ins Chief Powell said officers are increasing visibility. “We have increased patrols and have increased foot patrols and talking with people out walking in those areas.”
Drug crimes increased from 376 to 455 (+21%), sex offenses fell from 13 to 7 (-46%), and DWI arrests fell by one arrest from 103 to 102 (-1%).
Altogether police investigated 1959 crimes in 2016, up from 1,901 in 2015.
Chief Powell wants the public to help police in their efforts to reduce crime. “Citizens can all be alert and call the police if they see any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods or any area in town.”
Police have also established a Tip Line to report anonymous tips about suspects and crimes. That number is 919-989-8835.
In the Town of Selma, the crime rate was up nine percent last year.