Burglaries rise in 2011

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Police to focus on property crimes

The Suffolk Police Department will focus more efforts on property crimes this year after seeing the number of burglaries rise dramatically in 2011, the police chief said.

The department responded to 33 percent more burglaries this year, Chief Thomas Bennett said. Meanwhile, the department saw violent crime numbers drop or rise by negligible amounts.

“We have a lot of folks, unfortunately, come from other cities to steal, because we have so many nice neighborhoods in Suffolk” compared with surrounding cities, Bennett said.

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Also, he added, there were a number of serial burglars targeting Suffolk neighborhoods this year. Several were eventually arrested and await a resolution of their cases in court.

“That’s what we’re going to focus on this year, trying to prevent (burglaries) and arrest people responsible,” Bennett said.

He said he hopes to prevent burglaries by educating the public to take steps to protect their own property and look out for each other more.

“We find that in a lot of burglaries, neighbors see something a little strange but don’t call us,” he said. “They may see a strange vehicle in the driveway and don’t call us, but later they find out their neighbor’s house was broken into.”

Bennett also hopes more officers and detectives will be able to work to connect related crimes.

“Somebody doesn’t do just one burglary,” Bennett said. “That’s what really hurts you.”

In other crime numbers, homicides fell 25 percent, from four in 2010 to three in 2011. Two of those this year were connected to murder/suicide events.

The only unsolved murder of the year is that of 20-year-old Brandon Alexander Alston, who was shot just after 11 p.m. on June 29 through the door of his Blackstone Way home.

Forcible rapes rose 38.5 percent, from 13 to 18. Despite the large percentage, Bennett said, the rise is not statistically significant because of the small numbers involved.

Still, he added, “Any more is bad.”

Meanwhile, robberies fell slightly, and aggravated assaults rose by less than 2 percent.

“Everybody’s down in violent crime this year,” Bennett said, referring to other localities in the region.

Motor vehicle thefts and larcenies rose by 7.2 and 8.3 percent, respectively, both numbers Bennett considers nominal, he said.

The biggest jump on the report of what’s known as “Part 1” crimes was arson, which rose from 17 in 2010 to 31 this year.

“A lot of times, that comes along with the economy,” Deputy Fire Chief Ed Taylor said. “It seems like anytime we have a dip in the economy, we have more arsons.”