Analyzing the yearly crime rates provides for quick talking points, but rarely provides enough data to make accurate conclusions about larger trends in crime. Therefore, a more effective way to measure the direction of a state, county or city is to measure trends by the decade. This can be a tedious process, but overall paints a better picture of where our communities stand. Yearly crime data compiled by the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention is not officially released for a given year until about two years have passed. Data from 2020 was recently released, and after examining trends from 2011 through 2020 the major takeaway is that overall crime has dropped, but certain violent crimes have not followed suit.
Property crimes such as burglary have steadily declined, with overall numbers decreasing from roughly 30,000 cases in 2011 to less than 15,000 in 2020. Motor vehicle thefts have also decreased from about 16,000 cases in 2011 to about 10,500 in 2020. Motor vehicle theft cases have been steadily decreasing over the past several decades due to technological advances in cars, but a 33% decrease in 10 years is still significant. Overall, in 2011 there were a total of 114,871 reported theft cases in Maryland, and in 2020 there were 72,865. This decrease in property crimes cannot be ignored, and is hopefully a sign of better times ahead. On the other hand, there is still cause for concern about the number of violent offenses committed in Maryland each year.
In 2020 there were 573 homicide cases in Maryland, which is the highest number in almost 25 years when the state reported 588 homicides in 1996. 334 of these homicides were committed in Baltimore City, and 92% were committed with a firearm. Also, less than half of these homicides (47%) resulted in an arrest, which is a staggering percentage. There were significantly more reported rape case in 2020 than in 2011, and as a whole both the homicide and rape numbers seem to be steadily increasing over the last 5 years. The rape numbers may have increased due to greater awareness and a higher percentage of these cases being reported to law enforcement. Aggravated assault cases, including first degree assault by strangulation or assault with a firearm, have been decreasing slightly and robbery numbers are down throughout the state, but neither of these trends makes up for the increasing murder and rape numbers. What is significant is that 2020 saw the fewest incidents of reported violent crime in Maryland since the beginning of the record keeping in 1980. Part of this relatively low number in 2020 could be attributed to Covid and people staying at home, so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but the progress is undeniable.