While violent crime dropped overall in sections of the 39th Police District, as 2012 comes to a close, property crimes will have skyrocketed over the prior year’s statistics.
As noted by police officials at December’s Police Service Area One meeting, the area of the 39th District that includes East Falls, Southwest Germantown, and sections of Allegheny West have seen a jump of approximately 125-percent in residential burglaries, with 234 reported as of Dec. 18.
The rise in thefts from vehicles was even greater, with the 391 recorded instances representing a 150-percent jump over the prior year’s tally.
Southwest Germantown was said to have endured the majority of the burglaries and thefts. In the first 18 days of December, PSA-1 as a whole has experienced 14 residential burglaries and 17 thefts from vehicles, both of which are expected to climb as the new year approaches.
Offsetting these trends are reductions in violent crime, with robberies at gunpoint decreasing from 50 in 2011 to 38 in 2012, and aggravated assaults involving a gun decreasing from 56 to 49.
Remaining constant are statistics for homicide and commercial burglaries, with eight murders recorded in both 2011 and 2012, and 39 commercial burglaries reported, up one from the previous year.
Despite the decrease in violence, the upswing in property crimes result in an average of 3.8 Part One crimes per day, up from 2011’s average of 3.1 crimes per day. However, with 12 days of statistics left to compile, police are projecting that this year’s numbers are likely to increase.
While the statistics are grim reminders of the situation on many streets, police noted the arrests of two criminals responsible for numerous crimes in Germantown and East Falls.
The first arrest was made in connection with two burglaries that occurred on the 500 block of Manheim St., both perpetrated by one individual who is now in custody.
The second arrest was in connection to a theft from a vehicle on the 500 block of Midvale Ave. Witnessing someone lurking on his establishment’s property, an observant employee of a nearby business notified police of the suspicious person, who was promptly apprehended.
At the same time, the victim of a car break-in at the Queen Lane train station alerted police to the situation, and the apprehended suspect was found with the complainant’s valuables in his possession. He was positively identified, arrested, and the recovered items were returned to their rightful owner.
While police did not identify the offender in the thefts, he was said to be a resident of nearby Hansberry St.Beyond the arrests, Lt. Edward Bier, ranking officer for PSA-1, said that both incidents occurred during the day, reinforcing his observation that as many as half of recent property crimes occur during daylight hours.
And while he said that local police will focus their efforts on reducing property crimes in 2013, Bier suggested that the public can play a part, removing all valuables from their cars and never hesitating to call 911 should they feel something awry.
“If you see a strange individual in your neighborhood, let the police investigate why that person is there,” he said. “Don’t second-guess yourself.”