CRI Focus Areas

Does Sussex County Have a Crime Problem?


According to the 2010 FBI Uniform Crime Report, the violent and property crime rates in Delaware are well above surrounding states and the nation. Surprisingly, except for the City of Wilmington, the highest 2010 crime rates are concentrated in Sussex County towns and cities. Expressed as incidents of crime per 100,000 population, nine out of the top ten highest violent crime and property crime rates occur in Sussex County communities in 2010. These crime rates are well above both the Delaware average and the U.S.     Violent Crime Rate 2010     Property Crime Rate 2010           Dewey Beach 4000.0   Dewey Beach 22461.5 Wilmington 1909.4   Bethany Beach 17004.0 Laurel 1688.3   Rehoboth Beach 13977.8 Milford 1512.7   Camden 8592.0 Milton 1381.5   Milford 7381.7 Bridgeville 928.1   Milton 7067.0 Georgetown 865.8   Laurel 6214.8 Millsboro 847.8   Dover 5717.7 Rehoboth Beach 800.5   Wilmington 5659.9 Seaford 756.5   Seaford 5659.9           DE 620.9   DE 3448.2 U.S. 403.6   U.S. 2941.9   Since these rates are based upon year round population, they are more difficult to interpret for the vacation communities in Sussex County…especially the violent crime rates. Dewey Beach, for example, had only one forcible rape in 2010, no murders, and just ten aggravated assaults. Property crimes, however, are more linked to the housing stock in a community. Of particular concern in Sussex County recently has been the high incidence of home invasions. The FBI data on burglary rates appears to confirm that there is a problem. The FBI defines burglary as the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft. Again, nine out of the top ten communities by burglary rate are in Sussex County, and these rates are well above the nation. Sussex County accounts for 20% of the population and 26% of all the burglaries in Delaware communities.     Burglary   Rate   2010 Milton 4197.7 Dewey Beach 3692.3 Greenwood 1826.0 Laurel 1810.6 Selbyville 1757.1 Rehoboth Beach 1662.6 Wilmington 1605.0 Ocean View 1528.0 Georgetown 1411.6 Bethany Beach 1315.8     Delaware 836.9 U.S. 699.6   Not surprising for a resort area, Sussex County also accounts for a disproportionate share of the forcible rapes and vehicle theft in Delaware. There is by no means a rampant crime wave in Sussex County. However, concern over home invasions appears to be warranted and peak vacation season staffing of law enforcement in the beach communities may be worth evaluating. Dr. John E. Stapleford, Director Center for Economic Policy and Analysis


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