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Crime drops in city in 2008

Data compiled by the Greenville Police Department shows that locally – like nationally – crime was down from 2007 to 2008.

The GPD saw a reduction in total number of cases from 542 in 2007 to 415 in 2008.

“Anytime crime is down in any area we’re certainly glad to see that,” said Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram. “We try to be proactive in preventing crimes from occurring, but we’re happy when we’re able to solve a crime after it occurs. We have a strong investigative unit that works hard to bring criminals to justice.”

Preliminary statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in January showed a reduction in crime in virtually every region of the United States in 2008, particularly violent crimes. Murders dropped by 5.2 percent, while forcible rapes fell 4.7 percent.

Greenville had one rape case and one murder case last year, which are both closed cases. The lone murder was the result of an apparent murder-suicide on Jan. 28, 2008 when GPD officers discovered the bodies of Patricia Lowery and her son, Scott Coshatt, in a mobile home on East Commerce St. Evidence on the scene indicated Coshatt fatally shot his mother, then took his own life.

Both burglaries and thefts rose by half-a-percent in the south, according to the FBI, but those same crimes trended downwards in Greenville. Police investigated 117 burglaries in 2007 versus 77 burglaries one year later, while 106 thefts were reported in 2007 and 67 in 2008.

“We’re always concerned with burglaries, but we were down this last year so that’s good to see,” Ingram said.

Ingram said he didn’t buy the idea that the economy’s downturn had an effect on crime.

“A guy loses his job he isn’t going to suddenly turn into a criminal,” he said.

The number of drug cases presented by the GPD to the Grand Jury fell from 149 in 2007 to 121 in 2008, but investigations yielded a good closure rate last year with all but one case marked as closed. Also, cases involving those suspects distributing illegal narcotics fell from 61 in 2007 to only 20 in 2008.