FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Statesville Police Department’s emphasis on getting illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of potential criminals is paying dividends.
During the first six months of 2023, SPD officers have seized 116 firearms, up from the 81 guns seized during the same period in 2022.
Police Chief David Onley provided City Council members and the public with mid-year crime data during Monday’s meeting.
“My priority is gun-related crime. We’re going to focus our efforts there,” the chief told council members.
“All of us in here don’t want innocent victims killed because of gun violence,” he added. “We feel much better about it than we did six months ago.”
Onley reported a 12.9 percent in violent crimes during the first six months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
Most of the statistical increase can be attributed to the jump in aggravated assaults. There was one murder in the first six months of 2023 — down from four in the same period in 2022.
There were a total of 105 violent crimes from January 1 through June 30 of this year, including 90 aggravated assaults, one murder, five rapes and nine robberies.
Meanwhile, property crimes declined by 22.69 percent in the first half of 2023 from the same period a year earlier. The number of burglaries (90), motor vehicle thefts (42), larcenies (242), theft from motor vehicles (68) and theft of motor vehicle parts (18) all declined, Onley said.
The chief said the creation of a new South Side Unit was helping make the community safer. In addition to patrol officers, three officers are now assigned to work in South Statesville around the clock.
Councilmembers Kim Wasson and Doris Allison praised the chief for the work the SPD is doing to keep the community safe.
“The progress you all are making now is changing lives,” Allison said. “I can truly say there has been a change in the atmosphere between the community” and the SPD.
Auto Thefts Increasing
During the summer months, the SPD has seen a sharp increase in motor vehicle thefts, Onley said. He attributed the spike to online videos that show viewers how to steal Kia Souls, which have been a popular target.
Police in nearby jurisdictions, the chief said, are reporting similar trends.
The city’s FLOCK cameras have helped officers recover several of the stolen vehicles, Onley said.