Crime Rate in Cambridge Drops in 2012

The year 2012 saw fewer crimes in Cambridge, continuing a trend where the overall serious crime rate decreased for each of the last three years and violent crime declined for each of the past four.

Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas gave credit for the decrease to not only the police officers in the field, but also the employees who analyze and synthesize data related to crime.

“By giving our officers this information, they have done an exceptional job of working to break patterns before they are able to fully materialize,” he said in a press release last week. “It is their hard work and commitment to this community which have made us successful in working to reduce crime.”

Several important indicators of crime in Cambridge fell over the past year. Property crime fell by two percent and violent crime was down five percent. Serious crime, an aggregate statistic including property crime and violent crime, fell three percent total. Much of this improvement was due to a remarkably low number of commercial robberies in 2012—last year, only 16 businesses were burglarized, down from 34 in 2011.

Cambridge Police Department spokesperson Daniel M. Riviello told The Crimson that while he could not attribute the decline in commercial robberies to a single initiative, the department has been working with local businesses for years to decrease robberies. Rivello pointed to one particular program that sends officers to local businesses to work with owners on an crafting effective security plans as a potential contributor.

“We have officers that go and meet with the business community and address any concerns, share any [relevant] information we might have, and talk to owners about how the business can protect themselves,” he said.

Despite last year’s improvements, the frequency of some types of crime remained the same, or even increased in 2012. Twenty-three rapes, including the two that occurred last August on Harvard’s campus, took place in 2012—the same number as in 2011. And even with what CPD in its press release called “successful undercover operations” against pickpockets, larceny from a person in 2012 increased by 15 percent. Larceny from a motor vehicle grew by seven percent last year.

Riviello added that despite the improvements reflected in last year’s statistics, CPD attempts to look beyond the numbers.

“We’re very excited about the fall in crime,” he said. “It’s the fourth year in a row. But we’re not just focusing on the numbers, because every time there is a crime, there are still people being victimized.”

—Staff writer Matthew Q. Clarida can be reached clarida@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @mattclarida.

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