The evening centered on a paradox inherent to law enforcement –
“You can’t take credit,” said Mary Jane Fullam, President of East Falls Town Watch, “for the crime that you prevent.”
On Thursday evening, community members filled all available seats for the 39th Police District’s Police Service Area 1 monthly meeting, held in the Carfax Building on Indian Queen Lane in East Falls. Lt. Edward Bier, a 25-year PPD veteran and ranking officer in PSA-1, spoke of crime patterns in the area and addressed resident’s concerns about both crime and quality-of-life issues.
Crime incidence down
Lt. Bier began his presentation with an overview of crime trends in PSA-1, which includes the entirety of East Falls along with sections of Germantown and Nicetown.
Between June and August, Bier cited a high rate of residential burglaries and theft from vehicles in PSA-1.
Since then, burglaries have decreased from 34 in October to 10 in November.
Pleased with what he termed a “huge decrease,” Bier said that there has only been one burglary recorded so far in December, along with a single theft from vehicle report.
He credited EFTW’s campaign to increase awareness about burglary and theft as contributing to these decreases, along with the allocation of manpower within the district and – to some degree – the change in seasons.
He noted that Part I crimes – the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report classification for property and violent crimes – have diminished as well, from 117 in October to 94 in November.
“I’m glad to see that the numbers are down,” said Bier, and emphasized that the cooperation of – and precautions taken by – the community contributes to these favorable statistics.
Bier also provided an update in regard to a recent attempted strong-arm robbery that had taken place on Indian Queen Lane.
On Dec. 9 at 11:30 a.m., the victim – described as being a 40 year-old female Fallser – was pushed to the ground and physically assaulted, with an attempt made to snatch her purse.
The two assailants – a teenaged male/female duo from the Abbotsford Homes – were apprehended shortly thereafter, due in part to the intervention of a passing delivery truck driver.
The driver, attempting chase with his vehicle, spotted Lt. Bier on patrol and provided him with information about the assault.
“If it wasn’t for (the driver),” said Bier, “they may not have been arrested.”
Combating renegade recyclers
Concluding his crime report, Lt. Bier opened the floor to community members.
Paramount among East Falls residents’ concerns were the malfeasant acts of “scrappers” – those seeking scrap metal and other salvageable detritus prior to – and sometimes in lieu of – trash day.
Matt Christy of Osmond Street shared his unsavory experience with renegade recyclers.
During a recent kitchen renovation, he had placed cabinets planned for reuse in his back alley, and caught the scrappers in the act of removing them.
Confronting them, Christy said the scrappers offered excuses – they said they thought it was trash.
Christy added that in addition to the incident in the back alley, scrappers have been observed taking items intended for recycling from his porch.
Lt. Bier pointed out the difficulties in making determinations in these situations. While “a theft is a theft is a theft,” he said, items intended for municipal recycling – which garners the city $67 a ton – are private property, but are of such little value that it would be difficult to arouse interest in prosecution.
For any other suspicious activity – such as vehicles trolling streets and back-alleys – Bier suggested that a report should be filed.
“Call 911, and let the police deal with it,” suggested Bier, assuring residents that they “shouldn’t feel like a fool for letting the police check it out.”
Helping police establish crime patterns
Lt. Bier also commented on stolen Christmas decorations in East Falls.
As previously reported by Newsworks, an East Falls resident recently experienced the theft of an 8-foot tall, inflatable Santa from his lawn.
In the story, the affected resident was reluctant to notify police, concerned that it might prove to be a distraction from more serious complaints within the 39th District.
“He should still make the report,” said Bier, explaining that while an arrest would be unlikely in this instance, a report would provide a description of where crime is at in the area and assists in establishing crime patterns.
He confirmed that there are no other known incidents of stolen holiday decorations in PSA-1.
Responding to participants’ concerns that “nothing happens” when reporting minor offenses, Bier said that police deployment strategies are linked to crime patterns.
“The thing that happens,” he assured those present, “is the deployment of cops.”
For information on PSA-1 meetings, visit the 39th District website at: phillypolice.com/districts/39th