Murders 'not typical' in county

Several high-profile murder cases in past months aren't indicative of an increase in the county's overall crime rate, according to Catawba County's sheriff.

The county received state, national and international media attention in recent months after murders like the Zahra Baker case, the Wheeler family murder-suicide and the death and mutilation of Stephen Starr.

The sheriff's department reported three murders in 2010 in its jurisdiction, which is the same number of murders the department has responded to already this year.

Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said those high-profile cases don't represent the county's amount and severity of crime, as a whole.

Petty crime and non-violent offenses in the county remained stable from December to January, according to recent statistics released from the Catawba County Sheriff's Office.

Reports of non-forcible burglary stayed about the same from December to January, with offenses hovering in the upper teens and low 20s. There was one report of someone with drunk and disorderly conduct in January, while the sheriff's office received two drunk and disorderly complaints in December.

Criminal damage to property stayed about the same as well, with 38 reported offenses in December and 36 in January.

Just 11 more men were arrested in January than December, when deputies arrested 180 men for varying offenses. The number of women arrested also stayed about the same, with 42 women arrested in December and 57 women arrested in January.

Reported rape, however, increased by one count in January, when no rapes were reported in December.

Simple assault markedly declined by almost half from December to January, from 31 to 19 reported offenses, respectively.

Larceny offenses also decreased, according to the sheriff's office report. Ninety-three larceny offenses were reported in December. That number decreased by 10 offenses in January.

Although larceny offenses stayed about the same from December to January, the county saw the value of stolen property in a larceny decrease by $40,781. The sheriff's office reported more than $200,000 in property loss from larcenies in December. At the same time the next month, that amount decreased to $159,585.

But as the weather improves and temperatures increase, Reid said it's not uncommon for crime reports and arrests to increase.

"There seems to be more parties with drinking and drug use," Reid said.
February's crime statistics are compiled at the end of March.