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Attorney General reports uptick in crime

Total reports of crime across North Carolina rose by 0.1 percent in 2007 while violent crime dropped by 0.7 percent, the state attorney general said Tuesday.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Total crime reported across the state rose slightly last year while violent crime dropped slightly, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday.

The overall crime rate in the state increased 0.1 percent from 2006 – the second year in a row the state's crime rate has increased. (See a summary of the report.)

The rate of violent crimes dropped 0.7 percent, however, according to reports that law enforcement agencies across the state submitted to the State Bureau of Investigation.

Among the data Cooper presented Tuesday, the state's murder rate increased 8.5 percent and the number of murders was up 10 percent. The sharpest increases in the state were in Durham with an 85 percent jump, Fayetteville and Ashville, each with a 40 percent increase, and Greenville with a 33 percent increase.

The rates for rape dropped 5.2 percent; robbery 0.4 percent and aggravated assaults 0.6 percent.

Overall, the rate of property crimes, such as burglary, larceny and vehicle thefts, also increased 0.2 percent. Larceny crimes rose 1.5 percent, while reports of burglary dropped 0.2 percent and reports of motor vehicle theft fell 8.7 percent.

Cooper said increased gang activity and drugs are two reasons overall crime is up, and he said he wants gang legislation that will include stiffer penalties and education for prevention.

He said he is also asking lawmakers for more money for technology and manpower.

"I don't think we have enough invested in fighting crime in this state," Cooper said. "I think we've got to give law enforcers the tools, the technology. I think we've got to have tough prison sentences, particularly for violent offenders."

A recent report by the Governor’s Crime Commission estimates that there are about 14,500 gang members in North Carolina and that 82 percent of the state’s jurisdictions have gang-related activity.