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
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
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
The Caesar Rodney Institute is Delaware's Only General Public Policy Organization Committed to Protecting Individual Liberties and Preserving Fiscally Responsible and Efficient Government for the Common Good.