Overall crime in Berkeley has seen a 7 percent decrease this past year, with a slight increase from last year in aggravated assaults and commercial burglaries.
According to the city’s annual crime report, announced by Berkeley Police Department Chief Michael Meehan at City Council’s special meeting Tuesday, rates of “part one crimes” such as homicide, rape, robbery, residential burglary and larceny decreased. Commercial burglaries increased by 11.7 percent and aggravated assaults increased by 8.2 percent, while the number of arson cases in 2014 remained the same as in 2013.
Overall, part one violent crime decreased by 24.6 percent and part one property crime decreased by 5.1 percent, the report said. Specifically, homicide cases decreased from four reported cases in 2013 to three reported in 2014.
Of those three homicides, two cases have closed with suspects arrested and prosecution underway, while the third, which occurred Dec. 29, is still under investigation.
“It’s really fantastic that for almost 12 years, crime continues to go down in Berkeley,” said councilmember Jesse Arreguin.
The city of Oakland’s 2014 crime report indicated a 9 percent decrease of part one crimes compared to Berkeley’s 7 percent. There were 30,962 reported part one crimes in Oakland, however, while Berkeley only had 5,555.
Arreguin said that although he was pleased with the overall decrease in crime, there are “still issues that need to be addressed.” He said there are particularly high instances of robbery and theft Downtown, where many students live.
The report also showed a reduction of rape crimes, from 29 reported cases in 2013 to 25 reported cases this past year. Meehan announced that BPD is transitioning into reporting sexual assaults in accordance with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Uniform Crime Report’s new rape classification, which includes several more sexual assault offenses regardless of the victim’s gender.
The 2014 report does not include cases of sexual assault defined by the new UCR definition. But BPD said there would be an additional 18 reported rape cases under the revised definition, raising the total number of assaults to 43 compared to the 40 sexual assaults under the updated definition in 2013.
Meehan also said BPD, to address increases in bike theft, has partnered with UCPD and initiated a bike theft reduction project. This including registering more bikes, which councilmember Kriss Worthington said increases the chances of someone recovering a stolen bike.
“Part of the increase of reported bike thefts is not that there are actually more bike thefts, but that more people are reporting them,” said Worthington, who has had four of his bikes stolen.
In 2014, BPD implemented Nixle alerts, which inform the community about events and crime prevention measures and seek help for finding lost individuals and identifying suspects in crimes.