SEXUAL assault reports increased by 47% in Louth during 2012, according to the latest garda statistics.
The Argus has learned that these figures show the vast majority of complaints were in relation to the ongoing case involving former Drogheda hospital consultant Michael Shine.
Crime figures for 2012 indicated that reported rapes were down by 38%.
Other headline crimes included serious assaults, which were marginally up on the previous year, whereas minor assaults increased by around 6%.
Chief Supt. Pat McGee confirmed that in relation to 'firearms offences' there was a 43% drop in incidents where firearms had been discharged, and a 56% decrease in possession of same.
Drugs offences were also down across the county, with possession for sale or supply reduced by 27% and simple possession incidents down by 6%.
The number of incidents involving the cultivation of drugs, such as ' cannabis farms' which had previously seen a huge increase, also dropped in 2012, by around 15%
Car thefts were also down by around 13%, with shoplifting falling slightly (1%) and incidents were items had been stolen from inside cars also fell by 1%.
' There was a particular focus last year on reducing the number of car thefts from areas along the M1 motorway,' said the Chief Supt.
The ' ad hoc' parking facilities close to roundabouts outside Dundalk and Drogheda were being targetted by thieves who, on one occasion, used a tow truck to steal a vehicle.
'We did a leaflet drop on cars parked in these areas, which seemed to have got the message thorough, as there are very few cars parked now.'
Across Louth, the number of incidents involving arson fell by around 12%, whereas criminal damage was down by 6%. In Drogheda alone, arson related crimes dropped by 16%, and in Dundalk by 8%.
' The fall in public order offences continued in 2012, with a total of 207 detected, which represents 22% fewer incidents than in the previous year,' said Chief Supt. McGee.
'We have noticed an ongoing drop in the rate of public order offences over the last few years,' he added, pointing out that this appeared to be directly related to less 'night' activity on the streets of major town such as Drogheda, Dundalk and Ardee.
' There seems to be just one night in the week now, Saturday night, for socialising,' said the garda chief.