I often feature communities here that are experiencing heightened residential crime statistics, both to examine the root causes, and also to see how local law enforcement and homeowners are responding. In so many jurisdictions the trends in burglaries are going the wrong way, even as other types of crime decrease, while budget pressures cause layoffs in law enforcement. Even so, only about one in five homeowners has a monitored alarm system. But if police across the US had their way, more people would opt for the peace of mind that comes from residential security – especially safer cellular monitoring. Here’s a detailed look at burglary stats in the San Francisco Bay Area – and it’s not pretty.
Bay Area cities have seen double-digit jumps in home burglaries during the first half of 2012 as a storm of such factors as fewer cops on the streets and rumors of easy targets have collided to boost thievery. The biggest spike is in Palo Alto, with a 63 percent jump in home burglaries, but Oakland has seen a 33 percent hike, and the surge in San Jose is 39 percent.
Different Communities, Different Reactions…
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed last week called for data on the spike and an explanation of what his police chief was doing about it. In both San Jose and Oakland, with fewer officers able to respond to calls, police are focusing on homicides or rapes instead, while the reaction to burglaries gets lower priority. In contrast, police say, the situation on the Peninsula appears to be driven more by the belief in crime circles that communities along the Interstate 280 corridor are easy marks for jewelry and electronics, and homeowners are helping by leaving doors and windows unlocked.
Fewer Feet on the Street – or in Patrol Cars
San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore said budget cuts have chopped his department down from 1,409 officers and trainees in 2007 to 1,056 cops now. As a result, he said, officers on the street may be swamped with calls for help. The less urgent ones, such as a report of a suspicious person, might not get a speedy response. Calls about suspicious people often are tied to break-ins, police say. But Moore said he believes that has little to do with the recent upward swing. “These (burglars) don’t stop until you catch them,” Moore said. “I’d rather catch them the first time, instead of after the sixth or seventh crime.”
Improving in Oakland?
Oakland, which is down to about 640 officers, a drop of 200 from just three years ago, also gives priority to violent crimes, Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said. She said the staff cuts are part of the mix of factors pushing the spike. Recently, she said, the department shifted more cops, vehicles and attention to address the [residential crime] problem and that has made a difference. Police are noticing a recent curb in the burglary trend.
Some Communities Targeted for Intrusion
Detective Bob Collins of the South San Francisco Police Department, which had a 31 percent break-in jump, said burglary suspects have told investigators they’d heard from other crooks that Interstate 280 corridor communities had lots of wealth. “These homes are upper-middle class and they have things people want,” Collins said, adding Peninsula police have launched a regional effort to fight the trend.
What You Can Do
Police generally offer the same types of home security advice all across the US – and their recommendations invariably overlap with FrontPoint’s Top 10 Tips for Home Security. Here are some steps you can take to increase your peace of mind, courtesy of law enforcement professionals in various California jurisdictions.
- Lock doors and windows.
- Call police if you see someone or something suspicious.
- Get a burglar alarm or use it if you already have one. [Great advice!]
- Trim back hedges and vegetation near doors and windows.
- Record serial numbers of expensive items and take photos of them.
- Put items like jewelry in a safety deposit box.
- Install tracking apps on smartphones and tablet computers.
FrontPoint is the recognized leader in wireless home security because we combine the most advanced home security and home automation services. Whether it’s more reliable cellular monitoring, notifications and remote arming, video features, or using apps to control lights, locks, and thermostats, FrontPoint has the solution. We provide systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat – that’s why FrontPoint is the #1 ranked alarm company in the US.