By HEATHER WALTERS
Crime statistics are in for 2020, and those numbers show that fewer major crimes were committed against people in Colleton County this past year than in 2019.
Leaders within the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office have compiled statistics for all major crime genres of crime. This includes murders, rapes, assaults, drug cases, theft, and burglaries.
According to those statistics, in 2019, there were 770 crimes committed in Colleton County against people. This includes 11 murders; one negligent manslaughter; 706 assaults; 11 rapes; 10 cases of fondling and 41 overall sex offenses.
Also, in 2019, there were 1,039 property crimes committed in Colleton County.
This includes eight arsons; 202 burglaries; 164 cases of property damage or vandalism; 111 cases of fraud; and three impersonation cases.
This also includes 446 cases of larceny or theft.
Additionally, in 2019, there were 339 cases of crimes committed against society. This genre includes drug offenses, gambling and prostitution.
According to the sheriff’s office, there were two pornography cases investigated in 2019. There were also 164 drug cases investigated in Colleton in 2019.
In comparing those statistics to 2020, our most recent calendar year, there were a few fewer crimes committed against people than in the year before.
According to the sheriff’s office, there were 761 crimes committed against people in Colleton County in 2020. This includes 716 assaults; 11 kidnaping cases, six murders, 12 rapes, two cases of sodomy; and eight reported cases of fondling.
Compared to 2019, there was one more murder in 2020, but the overall number of crimes committed against people in 2020 went down from the year prior. There were, however, more assaults in 2020 than in 2019.
In 2020, there were 1,059 reported property crimes committed in the county.
This includes six arsons; 166 burglaries; 196 cases of property damage or vandalism; 87 offenses of fraud; and three impersonation cases.
This also includes 131 cases of theft from a motor vehicle and 595 additional cases of larceny. The larceny category includes an array of crimes, from pocket-picking to theft from a motor vehicle.
In 2020, there were also 219 reported crimes against society. This includes five cases of pornography, 69 weapons violations, 144 drugs cases and one prostitution arrest.
Yet, last year, detectives from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office recovered more than $1.3 million in stolen property.
“The property we have recovered and returned is everything from a pair of shoes to larger stolen goods, such as lawnmowers and cars,” said Capt. Jason Chapman, the detective in charge of the CID. Chapman oversees the eight other detectives who work for the CID. The department also has an evidence custodian, rounding out its ninth personnel.
“These cases that we investigate include everything from theft from a motor vehicle, heavy construction equipment, residential burglaries and commercial burglaries,” said Chapman.
Chapman said the CID investigates cases in Colleton County, and also work on cases reported to them from other law enforcement agencies, including the Walterboro Police Department and neighboring sheriff’s offices, such as the Dorchester and Charleston County Sheriff’s Offices.
According to Chapman, the number of burglaries and property-theft cases in Colleton County has increased this year, as compared to the year prior in 2019.
He attributes this increase to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions it has placed on the legal system. For example, while arrests have occurred in most of the county’s property-theft cases, there is a cycle of repeat offenders. This is because the suspects are awaiting trial while out on bond. The pandemic has caused the state’s Chief Justice to issue a statewide mandate, which states all county-based detention centers should work to stay free of COVID-19 cases by lowering their General Population count.