Ocean City Crime Rate Up As Town Prepares For Busy Season - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Ocean City Crime Rate Up As Town Prepares For Busy Season

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OCEAN CITY, Md. - The board walk isn't filled just yet, but soon, Ocean City will come alive. We're nearing the busiest time of year for the beach town – in tourism and crime.

And sun-seakers may need to protect themselves from more than just the rays.  According to the 2012 town police report, crime in Ocean City was up five percent.

"It was disturbing to see the increase," said Officer Mike Levy of the Ocean City Police Department. "We're going to be very aggressive in pursuing that."

The number one crime in Ocean City year after year is larceny, accounting for 79 percent of all serious crimes reported last year. It also was 79 percent of the serious crime reported in June.

Electronics are top targets, so police warn that those items should be kept out of sight, or even left locked in vehicles.

But, some beach-goers say it's been smooth sailing.

"I have not had any problems in the last 10 years we've been coming," said Lavern Straker-Brown.

Still, police are being proactive across the board, and pedestrian safety is at the top of Officer Levy's list.

Last year, 44 people were hit while walking across the street - the highest number since 2007 Two people were killed.  And there's a disturbing trend here: sixty percent of the accidents involved alcohol.    

"When you consume alcoholic beverages, you tend to forget that when you leave the establishment, you still need to use the cross walk," said Levy.

That's why the police department is promoting the "Walk Smart" campaign. It's a town-wide effort to get people to use cross walks properly, and cut down on the potential risk for tragedy.

For Will Wenninger, crossing the street starts with a simple concept.

"I think a lot of people have to be cognizant of cars not stopping," said Wenninger of Hershey, Penn. "You have to be more defensive than offensive."

Getting across Coastal Highway isn't the only area where there's danger lurking – driving under the influence was up 66 percent.

"There's no reason for you to be arrested for drunk driving in Ocean City," said Levy. "We have taxis, busses … and we have a zero tolerance policy. We have officers that are recognized throughout the state and across the region for their active and aggressive DUI enforcement."

But, there were positive findings in the report. There hasn't been a criminal homicide since before 2006. Assaults on police officers are down, and so are alcohol citations.

But, with high school students descending on the town, underage drinking remains a concern. Eighty-one percent of all citations issued for people too young to drink in 2012, were handed out in June.  

Levy is encouraging students to take part in the 24th annual "Play it Safe" program. It's an entirely volunteer effort providing high school students with drug and alcohol free activities, free bus rides and discounted meals.

Find out more about "Play it Safe" here.

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