Crime in Gaithersburg is rising, as new police figures show total crime has increased more than 20 percent since last year, with both robberies and aggravated assaults almost doubling.
Data from the police department shows third-quarter crime rates are up from 1,366 total crimes last year to 1,634 this year through September.
The crime that rose the most was robbery -- almost doubling from 34 incidents between January and September 2011 to 63 between January and September this year. Since Dec. 21, Gaithersburg police have reported three strong-armed robberies, two burglaries and one armed robbery in the area.
Aggravated assault in the 61,000-resident city increased from 47 assaults to 78 in the same period.
Montgomery County police show a similar trend. Year-to-date, the county has seen aggravated assaults increase from 484 to 667, though burglaries in the county are down.
Meanwhile, the number of homicides in Gaithersburg fell to zero in 2012, down from one in 2011.
JoAnn Schimke, former president of the West Riding Citizens Association, says her neighborhood is relatively safe, although there are isolated incidents of people breaking into cars, vandalizing public property, and the occasional assault at night.
Gaithersburg police spokesman Officer Dan Lane said the rising numbers could be a result of police being more aggressive in their patrolling and residents having more knowledge about how to report crimes.
"A lot of officers are being more proactive," Lane said. "There are also more venues to report incidents. You can do it online or call us. Now that you have those other ways of reporting crimes, we see a lot more people doing so."
Gaithersburg Councilman Henry Marraffa said although he doesn't like to see the number of crimes rise, the proactive reporting of officers might cause criminals to be more reluctant before acting. He said sending out a "zero tolerance" message hopefully would curb crime.
"There are some problems here and there -- every city has problems," he said. "But we're doing a much better job of policing our neighborhoods."