2012 sees rise in Berkeley city crime rates

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The city of Berkeley has seen an 11 percent increase in violent and property crimes for 2012 after four years of falling crime rates.

According to the city’s annual crime report, announced by Berkeley Police Department Chief Michael Meehan at the City Council’s special meeting Tuesday, there has been an increase in “part one crimes” throughout the city. Part one crimes include murder, rape, robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft.

“It’s disturbing that crime is up 11 percent,” said City Councilmember Susan Wengraf. “It’s disturbing that rape is up as high as it is. I’m not sure if the actual rape numbers are up or if more people are just reporting rapes, but I was terrified.”

In 2011 Berkeley had one reported homicide, 20 cases of rape and 3,458 larcenies. In contrast, 2012 saw five homicides, 39 rapes and 4,102 larcenies. Larcenies, which make up a majority of the reported crimes, include petty theft, grand theft and auto burglaries.

Several crimes, however, were below or remained near 2011 levels, according to the report. There were fewer aggravated assaults, burglaries, robberies and arsons in 2012 than in 2011.

Several council members, including Laurie Capitelli and Kriss Worthington, said they were disappointed in the rise in crime for 2012. Both, however, expressed support for the police department, stating that the department has been doing a good job handling the various incidents.

“The police force is working hard and acting successfully in making sure that they’re using their time and resources in an efficient manner,” Capitelli said.

Additionally, Meehan’s report listed several crime prevention and response strategies that the police department implemented in order to reduce certain crimes. These strategies include efforts such as working in conjunction with UCPD to reduce street robberies and address ongoing crimes issues on Southside.

Much like the city, the university has also seen an increase in crime. Part one crimes went up by about 13 percent, according Lt. Eric Tejada, spokesperson for UCPD.

Robberies have increased from 13 cases in 2011 to 20 in 2012, and violent crimes have risen by 1 percent, Tejada said.

Berkeley residents should also be more alert and careful when it comes to property crimes, according to Capitelli and Wengraf.

“People just need to be conscious of their environment and the fact that you don’t want to create a bunch of inviting targets,” Capitelli said. “That’s everything from not walking down the street to your head buried in your smartphone and to keeping your car locked.”

Despite the uptick in crime for 2012, crime rates have declined significantly in the long run.

“In the past 10 years in a row, crime has gone down, and this is the first year that crime has gone up,” Worthington said. “Even with the increase, it’s still lower than two years ago.”

Andy Nguyen is the lead crime reporter. Contact him at [email protected].