Canton and unincorporated Cherokee County saw an increase in violent crime in 2021 over the previous year, law enforcement annual reports show.

Here are crime statistics in 2021 for Cherokee County, according to local law enforcement agencies, and how they compare to the previous year.

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office

In 2021, unincorporated Cherokee saw 10 murders, up from just one in 2020, the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office annual report released in March shows. In 2019, the CSO reported zero murders.

The CSO investigates homicides typically 0-3 times a year, on average, according to CSO spokesperson Capt. Jay Baker, though “it varies year to year.”

Four of the 2021 homicide victims in Cherokee County were those killed in the shooting at Young’s Asian Massage last March. The shooter, Robert Aaron Long, has been sentenced to life in prison for his crimes in Cherokee, but is awaiting trial in Fulton County, where he is charged with murdering four more people at two other spas.

“Homicides rates have increased nationwide and Cherokee County was no exception in 2021. The spa shooting accounted for 4 deaths, our deputies also responded to homicides that involved domestic violence, child abuse, narcotics and a shooting at a party,” he said.

So far in 2022, Baker said, the sheriff’s office has responded to one murder, which was also a domestic violence situation.

The CSO also reported sharp increases in other types of violent crime in 2021: 101 aggravated assaults, over double the 45 reported in 2020, and 20 rapes, up from 11 in 2020.

Cherokee County (unincorporated) crime (from Cherokee Sheriff's Office)

Crime 2021 2020
Murder 10 1
Aggravated assault 101 45
Rape 20 11
Burglary 138 123
Robbery 8 10
Larceny 706 557

Burglaries and larcenies were also up in the sheriff’s office’s jurisdiction, though robberies were slightly down.

Larceny includes all thefts, misdemeanor and felony, except auto thefts, robbery, burglary and fraud.

The sheriff’s office generally responds to crimes in unincorporated Cherokee County and in Waleska, which does not have a police department; CSO crime statistics are not countywide.

Baker said many factors have contributed to the overall increase in violent crime.

“Population growth plays a role in all types of criminal activity. In Cherokee County, the majority of violent crimes we respond to are incidents in which the victim and the suspect know each other. Often the factors, or motives, related to these types of crime are greed, revenge, financial gain or drug related. Many are crimes of passion,” he said.

Woodstock Police Department

In Woodstock, police reported one murder in 2021 after a year with zero murders, though other types of crimes were down compared to the previous year.

Woodstock crime (from Woodstock Police Department)

Crime 2021 2020
Murder 1 0
Aggravated assault 21 23
Rape 0 1
Burglary 16 22
Robbery 0 1
Larceny (from motor vehicle 42 59
Larceny (shoplifting) 140 90
Larceny (other) 130 197
Auto theft 13 9

Woodstock Police Crime Analyst and Public Information Officer Brittany Page said theft offenses, including shoplifting and entering autos, continued to trend in 2021, though entering autos were down.

We are working closely with loss prevention and stores’ security to reduce shoplifting from our retail stores,” she said.

The majority of entering auto thefts occur when vehicle doors are left unlocked in a parking lot, Page said.

“We continue to remind residents and guests of Woodstock to lock their car doors and hide valuables from plain site. If you see something suspicious, please say something and call 9-1-1,” she said.

From 2019 to 2021, Woodstock Police’s reported offenses overall have generally gone down by 29%: 513 in 2019 to 364 in 2021.

In the first quarter of the year, crime in Woodstock was slightly down from the same time the previous year, Page said.

“As of March 31, 2022, Woodstock has seen a 1% reduction in UCR reportable crimes and a 3% reduction in NIBRS reportable crimes compared to this time in 2021,” she said. “It is also worth noting that Woodstock was named the 5th safest city in Georgia by Safewise in 2021.”

Canton Police Department

Violent crime in Canton was up 31% in 2021, 59 total violent crimes reported compared to 45 in 2020, according to the Canton Police Department’s annual report. Most of those, 45, were aggravated assaults, up from the previous year.

One homicide was reported in Canton in 2021, the same as 2020.

In Canton, driving under the influence incidents increased by 79% in 2021 over the previous year, according to the Canton Police report.

“We did see an increase in DUI arrests in 2021. In 2020, most establishments were closed, and people consumed alcohol at home; therefore, DUI arrests were low,” said Canton Police Community Outreach Officer Pacer Cordry. “In 2021 the bars and restaurants opened back up, and DUI arrests returned to the usual percentage.”

Cordry said the increase may also come from the stress of the pandemic, which caused some to drink more and be less likely to use a rideshare like Uber. With fewer cars on the road, officers spotted impaired drivers more easily.

Canton offers city residents courtesy rides home from local restaurants year-round, Cordry said.

Shoplifting also increased in 2021 by 55%, according to the report. In 2021, there were a total of 183 shoplifting crimes compared to 118 in 2020.

“The rise in shoplifting may be due to the pandemic. The loss of jobs and individuals feeling desperate may have led them to make poor decisions to steal,” Cordry said.

Forced burglaries, however, were down by 24%, which Cordry attributed to more people being at home during the pandemic.

“We only had one non forced burglary in 2021. We credit this to individuals making sure they locked their homes and business,” said Cordry.

Canton crime (from Canton Police Department)

Crime 2021 2020
Murder 1 1
Aggravated assault 45 29
Rape 9 11
Burglary 14 17
Robbery 4 4
Larceny 156 226
Arson 1 1

“We saw slight increases in some areas like shoplifting and traffic citations, which we didn’t see much of in 2020 due to COVID-19. However, even with this, our overall Part 1 Crimes total was up less than 1% in 2021 from 2020.,” Canton Police spokesperson Pacer Cordry said.

Part 1 Crimes are 10 serious crimes that occur on a regular basis and are likely to be reported to law enforcement.

Holly Springs Police Department

In Holly Springs, there was one reported murder in 2021 after zero reported the previous year, according to the Holly Springs Police Department’s 2020-21 Year to Date Police statistics report.

In Holly Springs, theft (larceny) had risen in 2021 to 112 cases, up from 80 the previous year, per the report. Additionally, in 2021, there were 50 reported frauds and forgery cases, up from 35 cases in 2020.

“From 2021-February 2022 we have had a slight increase in Frauds and Forgery,” said Holly Springs Police Department Spokesperson April Alstine. “For theft/larceny we increased patrols in areas and time frames the incidents were reported, as well as educating the community and following up on all leads.”

Alstine said for frauds and forgery, the department has provided education to crime victims and the community following up on all possible leads.

Holly Springs crime (from Holly Springs Police Department)

Crime 2021 2020
Murder 1 0
Aggravated assault 44 58
Rape 3 0
Burglary 8 12
Robbery 3 2
Larceny (theft) 112 85
Larceny (from motor vehicle) 11 8

Ball Ground Police Department

For 2020-2021, the Ball Ground Police Department reported zero homicides, rapes, robbery, and arsons, however, in this time there were 19 larcenies reported, three burglaries, one aggravated assault and one motor vehicle theft.

“We have a very low number of crimes reported in Ball Ground, and fortunately the incidents that are reported are not violent offenses,” Ball Ground Police Chief Bryon Reeves said.

So far this year, Reeves said his department has seen increased property damage involving an old elementary school that is now vacant.

“We have seen an increase in these incidents since the first of this year with 3 incidents since February, which resulted in charges against several juvenile suspects,” Reeves said. “The building is vacant and it has been a hot spot for juveniles to enter the building and splash paint around and break windows.”

Ball Ground police have also seen an “uptick” in domestic violence over the past few years, Reeves said. In 2021, he said the department responded to seven domestic violence cases, and of those seven, four resulted in a physical arrest of the primary aggressor.

”To date so far this year we have had three cases of domestic violence reported with one resulting in an arrest. Not sure what the cause of this could be, however substance abuse seems to be an issue in these cases,” he said. “We are fortunate that we do not have many cases of violent crimes and not many cases of property crimes such as burglaries and thefts.”

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