LUMBERTON — Robeson County led all North Carolina counties in its rate of overall, violent and property crime in 2015 and Lumberton far outpaced all other county municipalities, according to a recently released report by the State Bureau of Investigation.
It is the second straight year that Robeson has led the state in violent and property crime, according to the SBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting study, which depends on self-reporting. In years previously, the county had ranked first in violent crime but in the top five typically in property crime.
There were 39 murders in Robeson County during 2015, down from the previous year when 51 were reported; The Robesonian and local officials were unable to account for all 51 of them during 2014.
Eight of the 39 murders during 2015 were in Lumberton, according to the report. There were 559 murders in the state in 2015, an increase of 7 percent from 2014. That means Robeson County accounted for 7 percent of all the murders in North Carolina for 2015.
The Robesonian tried repeatedly to get comments from local law enforcement, but could not reach Sheriff Ken Sealey or Lumberton Police Chief Mike McNeill. A last-minute attempt to get the District Attorney’s Office also failed.
Robeson had a large lead in crime even though its overall numbers were down from the previous year.
Robeson County had the highest rates of the 88 counties reporting complete data for 2015. The county’s overall crime rate of 6,589.7 per 100,000 residents was a decrease from the 2014 rate of 6,845.5. The violent crime rate rose from 859 to 915.4. The property crime rate fell from 5,986.5 to 5,674.3.
No other county’s overall rate reached the 6,000 mark, the 900 level for violent crime or reached 5,000 for property crime. Cumberland County came closest for overall crime with 5,105.9, 553.6 for violent and 4,552.3 for property crime. Durham County recorded the second highest rate of violent crime, 785.
No other Robeson County municipality came close to Lumberton’s overall crime rate of 15,961.4. Red Springs came closest at 9,624.4. St. Pauls’ was lowest at 3,690.7.
The statewide rate of violent crime rose from 332.8 in 2014 to 355.8 in 2015, while the state’s overall crime rate dropped 3.5 percent in 2015. That continues a downward trend in North Carolina that started a decade ago.
The statewide rate for violent crimes, defined as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, increased nearly 7 percent. The rate for property crimes, defined as burglary, larceny, arson and motor vehicle theft, dropped nearly 5 percent from 2014.