WRAL Investigates

Police chief: Durham crime rate dips, reported rapes spike

Posted August 20, 2012 11:10 p.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2012 11:47 p.m. EDT

— Major violent crimes in Durham are down so far this year, but the number of reported rapes has increased nearly 30 percent, Police Chief Jose Lopez told City Council Monday.

Lopez said murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, as a whole, were down 5 percent in the first six months of 2012 over the first six months of 2011.

Rapes, however, increased from 35 to 45 in the same time period.

"The number of rapes are up, but we have no indication of a serial rapist," Lopez said.

He said most reported sexual assaults are domestic or committed by acquaintances. He said police have been placing more focus on the investigation of sex crimes, which may mean that more victims are coming forward than before.

City Council members expressed some concerns about a recent string of crimes on the American Tobacco Trail.

"Five were simple assaults, two of which were cleared by arrests. One is a robbery that is an open investigation," Lopez said.

More officers have been placed on patrol at the trail, Lopez said, and the department has ordered small four-wheel vehicles that will soon allow officers to drive on it.

Mayor Bill Bell said, despite some concerns over these incidents, the trail is safe to use for Durham residents.