Raleigh, N.C. — Homicides in Raleigh increased 29 percent this year over 2007, and armed robberies in the city were up 21 percent, according to preliminary figures from the Raleigh Police Department.
Through Sunday, 31 people had been killed in the city this year, compared with 24 last year and 18 in 2006. Final 2008 crime statistics are expected to be released in the next week or two.
"When you look at the numbers, you know it has been a very challenging year for the Raleigh Police Department and the Capital City," Police Chief Harry Dolan said. "We are alarmed and will do all that we can to reduce the amount of armed robberies and homicides carried out in our community."
The size of the increase in armed robberies dropped in recent months after a robbery spree early in the year put Raleigh on a pace for a 50 percent increase. Officers started concentrating on getting more robbery suspects off the street, and robbery-related arrests ended up 34 percent higher than last year.
"You have to get to them, and you have to intercede just as quickly as you can," Dolan said, adding that Raleigh residents have helped officers solve a number of crimes through tips and information.
Dolan attributed some of the increase in major crimes to Raleigh's population growth. The rate of Part I crimes, which include murder, rape, robbery and burglary, was up 3.29 percent this year, while the city's population increased 3.31 percent, he said.
Meanwhile, homicides dropped in Durham this year, to 24 from 26 a year ago. Durham's population grew by 2.2 percent this year.
Curbing gangs will be a major part of the Raleigh Police Department's efforts to reduce crime in 2009, Dolan said.
"We see a correlation between increased gang activity (and major crimes). We see people encouraging others to commit armed robberies and to be part of a gang," he said.