Robberies rise, but serious crime down overall in 2013

Serious crime reports in Berkeley continue to show a downward trend for the most part. Click the graph to see the full report. Image: Berkeley Police
Serious crime in Berkeley continues to show a downward trend for the most part. Click the graph to see the full report. Image: Berkeley Police

Pedestrian robberies, home burglaries, aggravated assaults and vehicle thefts rose in 2013 over the prior year, though the overall number of serious crimes fell, according to new data from the Berkeley Police Department that will be reported to the Berkeley City Council later this month.

Most of the increases were small, with the exception of robbery reports, which rose from 334 in 2012 to 409 in 2013. Auto thefts rose from 639 to 668.

A significant drop in larceny reports, from 4,102 to 3,664, brought the number of overall serious crime reports down from 6,209 in 2012 to 5,890 last year.

At the beginning of 2013, the Berkeley Police Department set a crime reduction goal of “zero growth” in serious crime rates.


“This goal was set in light of the increase seen in Berkeley and in the region in 2012, and reflected the Department’s focus, on reducing crime in Berkeley in 2013,” according to the report prepared by Police Chief Michael Meehan for the March 25 council meeting.

An increase in robberies in 2013 drove the number of overall violent crimes up. Click the graph to see the full report. Image: Berkeley Police
An increase in robberies in 2013 drove the number of overall violent crimes up. Click the graph to see the full report. Image: Berkeley Police

Other report highlights

Robberies increased 22.5% from the prior year, though they “trended downward” in the later part of the year. Smartphone robberies from pedestrians walking alone at night still make up the largest number of Berkeley robberies. Pedestrian robberies increased almost 30%, while commercial robberies decreased by 25%.

Aggravated assault reports grew 13% in 2013, with 122 reports, compared to 108 the prior year. Aggravated assaults frequently involved someone who is known to the victim.

Burglary reports increased 9.4% over the prior year. That increase was tied to home burglaries, while commercial burglary reports remained flat.

Auto theft reports increased 5% in 2013. Approximately 90% of the vehicles that were reported stolen in 2013 have been recovered locally or in other jurisdictions.

Larceny reports — which include auto burglary, petty theft, and grand theft — declined 10.7% in
2013. Auto burglaries dropped by 19.1%, with 287 fewer cases. Grand thefts declined
27.3%, with 173 fewer cases, and petty theft reports remained essentially flat.

There were four homicides in 2013, compared to five the year before. Prosecution is underway in all four of the 2013 murders.

Reported rapes dropped 25.6% in 2013, with 29 reports as compared to 39 in 2012. Nearly all the incidents involved an acquaintance.

A five-year look at the numbers. Click the graph for more information. Image: Berkeley Police
A five-year look at the numbers. Click the graph for more information. Image: Berkeley Police

The annual crime report also describes enforcement related to alcohol and smoking in Berkeley. Enforcement, primarily by bicycle officers working on Telegraph Avenue and downtown, resulted in 362 smoking-related tickets. Around Telegraph Avenue, police issued citations or made arrests for 138 alcohol-related offenses. Most of these incidents were either “open container” or “drunk in public” offenses.

Among the efforts Meehan credits with keeping crime reports down include the deployment of robbery suppression teams in areas likely to see those crimes, the department’s community newsletter, bike patrols downtown and on Telegraph, a collaboration with the university about rape awareness, a collaboration with business owners in areas experiencing burglaries, and increased efforts related to forensic analysis and ballistic information.

A more detailed report will be provided to council members March 25 during a special session at 5:30 p.m.

Related:
Berkeley pedestrian robberies up 35%, burglaries up too (09.17.13)
Berkeley crime analysis: Robberies up 25% in 2013 (05.16.13)
Crime in Berkeley up 11% in 2012, but longer trend is down (02.06.13)
32 robberies in recent 30-day stretch in Berkeley (12.28.12)
Berkeley hills neighbors anxious after recent robberies (12.21.12)
Berkeley shows big decline in violent and property crime (03.07.12)
Violent and property crimes decline in Berkeley (08.30.11)
Berkeley crime rates show steady decline (04.28.11)
Crime in Berkeley was down in 2010 (02.28.11)

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