Indianapolis Star Editorial


Crime on the Rise

November 20, 2005
Terrence "Mob" Anderson's alleged shooting spree. The murders of businessmen Clarence Williams and Palwinder Singh. An 18 percent spike in armed robberies countywide. These are some of the headlines in a year of rising crime. An analysis of Indianapolis Police Department data for the first nine months of 2005 shows significant increases in armed robberies, aggravated assaults and larcenies. Burglaries, while down this year, have increased 15 percent since 2001.

Public safety must become the single most important priority for county and city leaders. Indianapolis has polished its Downtown. The city is now building a new stadium and expanding the convention center. But all of it will be wasted if fearful residents flee the city for the suburbs.

Larceny

10,720 incidents, up 6 percent.

Case study: Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Earl Fortune thought the silver Honda he approached in September was stranded -- until, the deputy says, he saw Rickey Vanover take a stereo speaker from a nearby car and put it into his vehicle. After Vanover, also known as Ronald Weasner, noticed Fortune pulling up, he jumped into the Honda, then almost struck the deputy's car, before stopping.

Why it matters: Thefts have risen 20 percent since 2001 within IPD's district alone. It's costly, irritating and disturbing to have a bicycle, lawn furniture or other personal property stolen. Such crime also can lead to more serious incidents.

Burglary

4,651 incidents, down 8 percent this year (but up 15 percent since 2001).

Case study: When three sheriff's deputies arrived at Herman Norton's shop near the Indianapolis Airport in July, they allegedly saw Randy Denneman and Christopher Wirey leaving the parking lot with a cart full of scrap metal. After being stopped, the two men admitted to cutting through the back fence and picking up the material. Denneman, who had been arrested a month earlier for breaking the window of his stepmother's car, and Wirey were both charged with burglary and theft.

Why it matters: The sharp increase in home and business burglaries since 2001 has undermined residents' sense of security and driven up insurance costs.

Armed robbery

950 incidents, up 11.8 percent.

Case study: No one expects to be robbed while walking through Broad Ripple. But Daniel Young was. After leaving The Vogue nightclub on College Avenue last month, Young was grabbed by two men, who snatched his wallet, three cell phones and $20 in cash. One suspect, Eric McGee, was caught by an IPD officer after Young yelled for help.

Why it matters: The increase in armed robberies means more store employees and residents are being placed in life-threatening situations. In the past month, four people, including two business owners, have been murdered during robberies. Countywide, the rate of armed robberies has increased 18 percent from a year ago.

Aggravated assault

2,857 incidents, up 9.6 percent.

Case study: Michelle Smith last month said she had to pull herself away from a man who propositioned her, then grabbed her arm and cursed her. It got worse. Her fiance, Michael Maxwell, scuffled with the man, Lewis Kersey. Kersey is accused of later returning to the scene with an assault rifle and shooting Smith, Maxwell and Lakesha Stone. Kersey has been charged with three counts of aggravated battery and three counts of battery and criminal recklessness.

Why it matters: A person's safety, even his life, is at stake in a violent assault. Even low-level crimes can escalate into violence. A strong community stand against all crime is important.