By Mila Suzich
Phoenix’s property crime rates continue to go down and the city’s police chief vows to make crime suppression a priority for the department throughout 2016.
Property crimes have dropped in Phoenix, from 28,145 in 2014 to 27,356 in 2015, a decrease of 2.8 percent, according to 2015 crime data from the F.B.I. Property crimes include burglary, theft and larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson. They are crimes involving the taking of money or property.
Property crime surpassed record lows from last year and remains at historically low levels consistent with totals seen in the early 1980s, according to Phoenix Police Chief Joseph Yahner in a message posted recently on Nextdoor.com and on the Phoenix Police Department’s Facebook page. According to the message on Nextdoor.com, the department has been focused on five priorities including crime suppression and community engagement and outreach to keep those property crimes down.
Sgt. Jonathan Howard, a Phoenix police spokesman, said Phoenix police are putting most of their effort into identifying and targeting repeat offenders.
“We believe that the vast majority of crime is continually committed by a small percentage of the population,” Howard said. “By focusing on this segment of the population, we have a greater chance of detecting and deterring additional crimes.”
The department’s Investigative Support Detail is a central squad that reviews and assigns all property crime reports. The squad notes and acts upon detected similarities between incidents to ensure investigating detectives are aware of possible links between crime throughout the city, Howard explained.
He added the department has also developed a Business Economic Stability Team within the last two years to work directly with businesses in identifying repetitive property-related crimes specific to the business community. This includes shoplifters, scammers, embezzlers and others who commit crimes against businesses.
“By identifying and arresting these repeat offenders, we positively impact the rate of property crime,” Howard said.
Jackie Rich, a North Central resident for more than 26 years and neighborhood e-mail networker, and Ellen Bilbrey, secretary of Medlock Place Neighborhood Association Block Watch, e-mail more than 1,000 residents and businesses with crime information for the area. Rich gets her information from victims themselves, while Bilbrey receives suspicious people reports and calls and sends out crime prevention messages. Both say that a decrease in property crime relies on crime prevention and being aware and careful.
“As it becomes more popular to move into uptown, people need to be more self-aware and take care of their possessions,” Bilbrey said. “Be proactive in your own protection. The more people are proactive, the less criminals will come around.”
Rich and Bilbrey say building a community within your neighborhood is crucial to property crime prevention. Get to know your neighborhoods, report suspicious activity to Crime Stop and take precautions to keep your home safe.
“The more we’re all connected and looking out for each other, the better off we all are,” said Rich, who has served on the board of the Murphy Trail Estates Neighborhood Association.
Phoenix police encourage individuals and businesses to take their own precautionary steps to deter criminal conduct. This includes locking your vehicle, securing valuables and securing your property by keeping your yard lit and landscaping appropriately to ensure you are not providing someone with a place to hide in darkness or from view of neighbors.
To see information about crime in your neighborhood, visit www.raidsonline.com.