Recent reports by area police show that crime is falling in both Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, with Wilmington reaching historic lows and Wrightsville Beach numbers falling on fewer DWI arrests.
DWIs in Wrightsville Beach were sharply down the second half of 2018, with police making 56 DWI arrests between July and December in 2018, compared with 94 during the same period in 2017, according to a presentation in January by Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House.
Meanwhile, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous told the Wilmington City Council on Feb. 5 that crime statistics in Wilmington had dropped to a record low going back to 1993.
“That’s quite an accomplishment for the city,” Evangelous said, noting that the drop in crime also corresponded with an increase in population.
All of violent crime was down except for aggravated assaults, Evangelous said, citing gang violence and retaliation.
Wrightsville Beach saw a drop in crime each of the last two quarters.
More-serious Group A offenses were down 16 percent in Oct. – Dec. 2018 and 45 percent from July – Sept. 2018. House said the department had moved to a new classification system, the National Incident Based Reporting System, that could skew the numbers. For example, the July – Sept. 2017 numbers include 70 calls for service, which aren’t tracked in the new system.
In July-Sept 2018, there were 15 reported assaults, compared to 22 for the same period the year prior. There were 23 reported larcenies, compared with 30 the prior year.
Overall, Group B offenses were down 9 percent from Oct. – Dec. 2018, while From July – Sept. 2018, Group B offenses dropped 36 percent.
However, enforcement of town ordinances rose 56 percent the final quarter of 2018. With human waste citations pushing the increase. Enforcement of town ordinances rose just 4 percent in the July-Sept 2018 period.
In Wilmington, crimes classified as Part 1, the most serious offenses, were down 12 percent in 2018, and have dropped nearly 50 percent since 2002, Evangelous said. This drop in crime occurred while population grew nearly 33 percent.
Since 1993, the Part 1 rate has dropped by more than half, Evangelous said, noting that Part 1 crimes occurred at a rate of 12 percent of the population in 1993, to just 3.7 percent in 2018.
Crime is also down in the city’s Central Business District, Evangelous said, noting a 27 percent drop in 2018 and 66 percent drop since 2002.
Homicides were also down in 2018, with just 9 murders, compared to 19 in 2017. Evangelous noted that the city police force’s 67 percent closure rate on homicide exceeded the national average of 63 percent.