Homicides down in D.C., but thefts, sexual assaults up

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The number of murders is down significantly in the District, but other types of crime are still a problem in the city.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier says 55 percent of crimes D.C. police handle are thefts and thefts from cars.

What’s being stolen are expensive gadgets like smartphones, tablet computers and GPS units.

“Whatever it is, if it’s a small mobile electronic device it is the hottest commodity on the market,” Lanier says.

Recently, detectives uncovered a major theft operation in the city.

“The phones and the iPads and the computers that were being stolen were very quickly being resold. We recovered 1,000 items,” says the Chief.

Lanier says other countries have successfully tackled the problem.

“In western Europe, they have technology in place so that these devices cannot be resold.”

Chief Lanier says she’d like to see something similar done here in the U.S.

Another problem in 2011 was an increase in sexual assaults in the city, driven by a big uptick in the 7th District.

In most sexual assault cases the suspect and victim know each other. In the 7th District, Chief Lanier says they have at least ten open sexual assault cases involving victims attacked by strangers.

In 2011, the city also saw a rash of robberies targeting cab drivers, who get paid in cash.

Mayor Vincent Gray says changes are in the works that should help alleviate the problem.

“By this time next year, we expect to be able to have if not all certainly a huge majority of our taxicabs using credit cards.”

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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