Report shows drop in city crime rates

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Property and violent crimes in Berkeley reached their lowest rates in five years in 2011, according to a report on crime trends set to be presented to Berkeley City Council next week.

The number of reported incidents of property and violent crime went from 6,472 crimes in 2010 to 5,145 in 2011, according to the report from Berkeley Police Department that the council will look at March 6. When combined with arson statistics — which are not included in those totals — the report shows a 14 percent drop in these crimes between 2010 and 2011.

The decreases generally align with similar national trends. According to the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, statistics reported in the first six months of 2011 show a 6.4 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes compared to the same time period in 2010. The number of property crimes reported in the first six months of 2011 decreased 3.7 percent when compared with data from 2010, according to the FBI report.

Crimes counted into the violent crime category include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crime statistics include burglary, auto theft and larceny — meaning grand theft, petty theft and auto burglary.

One of the most significant differences between the 2010 and 2011 Berkeley statistics was the homicide rate, which fell by 83 percent, according to the report, from six incidents in 2010 to one incident in 2011. The city has seen two reported homicides so far in 2012.

Despite the overall improvement, there was a 5 percent rise in the number of reported auto thefts between 2010 and 2011,

Still, the overall number of reported  incidents of arson, property and violent crimes has decreased over the past five years. There were 7,755 incidents in 2007 and 5,145 total incidents in 2011, according to the report. The number of property crimes alone also fell in the five-year period, from 7,116 incidents in 2007 to 5,091 in 2011, according to the report.

The report also indicates that the number of reported violent crimes was at its lowest point in five years in 2011.

“In Oakland, the crime rate has gone up a lot, particularly violent crime, so the fact that Berkeley has gone down, down, down, down, down is great,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said she could not currently comment on the statistics “out of deference to the chief of police’s upcoming presentation to the City Council and the council members’ right to ask questions about the trends on March 6.”

The report is scheduled to be presented to the council per the council’s request to receive regular reports on the city’s crime statistics.