BALTIMORE — City officials in Baltimore are expressing concern about a spike in robberies as police continue to battle an escalating rate of violent crime.
The city has recorded 714 robberies so far this year, an increase of almost 25% from 573 robberies recorded for the same period last year, The Baltimore Sun reports.
Convenience stores appear to be a favorite target of criminals in Baltimore, which in 2019 was dubbed the nation’s “robbery capital” by then-U. S. Attorney General William Barr.
Robberies of convenience stores have jumped 300%, with more than 80 so far this year, according to police department data.
Police also have recorded a large increase in robberies they identify as “miscellaneous.” There have been 268 robberies in that category, compared to only 24 at the same time last year, but police officials attributed the surge in that category to a switch in reporting systems and say they are working to correct that data.
The city’s robbery numbers are rising even as cases decline in neighboring Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.
The spike comes as Baltimore police also face an increase in the city’s homicide rate. So far this year, 76 people have been killed, up from 65 in the same period last year. Another 156 people have been injured in shootings, up from 115 in the corresponding period. The city has reported more than 300 homicides each year since 2015 and is likely to see similar numbers this year at the current rate.
Meanwhile, Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott touted the police department’s 34% clearance rate for robberies, which is above the national average of 28%, as well as 32 arrests for carjackings. He and police officials also note the addition of 12 more license plate readers and improved coordination between a citywide robbery unit, patrol officers and Foxtrot, the city’s police helicopter, which have contributed to arrests.
“We know we have a long way to go,” Scott said.