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January 05, 2024

Homicides in Wilmington dropped to 20-year low in 2023 as violent crime fell

That decline mirrored trends seen across the United States, as did the surge in auto thefts in the Delaware city

Crime Homicides
Wilmington Delaware Homicides Source/Image licensed from Ingram Image

Wilmington had 22% fewer homicides in 2023 as the Delaware city's homicide rate dropped to a 20-year low, according to the police department's annual crime report.

Wilmington officials expressed cautious optimism Thursday as the city reported a historic drop in violent crime.

The Delaware city saw a 22% decrease in homicides in 2023 as killings dropped to their lowest total – 14 – in two decades, according to the city's annual crime report, unveiled by Mayor Purzycki and Police Chief Wilfredo Campos. The last time the city had fewer than 14 homicides was in 2003; it also had 14 homicides in 2007. 

READ MOREViolent crime in Philly decreased this year, keeping in line with a trend among other U.S. cities

The homicide drop coincides with trends in cities across the country. In 2023, the United States saw a record decline in homicides and notable drops in other violent crimes. In Philadelphia, there were 24% fewer shootings and 20% fewer homicides, according to police department data.

Though homicides were down in Wilmington, shootings rose slightly from 2022. But city officials emphasized that they are 45% lower than in 2017. They also noted that more shootings and homicides are being caused by isolated incidents, and that group-related violence has decreased.

The report categorized 36% of homicides and shootings as isolated incidents that resulted from domestic incidents, altercations, neighbor disputes or other causes. Another 20% were related to narcotics or robberies, and 19% were linked to group violence. The motive behind the remaining 25% remains under investigation. 

Though Wilmington's decline in homicides gave city officials cause to celebrate, they also noted the need for more progress in light of a 9% overall increase in violent crimes and property crimes. That jump was fueled by a surge in car thefts. 

There were 609 auto thefts reported in Wilmington last year – a 66% increase. The surge mirrored a national trend that has been attributed to a spike in people stealing Hyundais and Kias as a result of manufacturing flaws and the so-called "Kia Boyz" trend on TikTok that shows how easily the cars can be stolen. Philadelphia saw a 72% increase in car thefts. 

"While these numbers are encouraging, our work is far from over," Purzycki said. He pledged his administration would "build stronger community ties, target known bad actors, remove dangerous firearms from our streets, and make Wilmington the safest city it can be."