Most of us love our East Bay neighborhoods through the good and the bad. Great communities can sometimes face increased criminal activity, but these trends can fluctuate over time. The latest crime data from two Alameda County cities shows how these crime levels can change, for better and for worse. The good news: Oakland has seen a continuing decrease in gun crimes. The bad news, home burglaries are up in Berkeley.
The good news first. As the population of Oakland grew, crime in Oakland began to escalate since the late 1960s. Oakland continued to suffer from a dangerous impression through even recent years. Oakland was referred to som as a war zone, and regularly listed as one of the most dangerous large cities in the country. Now a more positive trend has taken over. For the second year in a row, homicides have dropped from 131 in 2012, to 92 in 2013, to 86 last year.
Additionally, according to data from SST ShotSpotter, shootings have dropped 26% over the past year. Oakland is one of a growing number of cities who use ShotSpotter, which is a gunfire detection and locator system. City Police Chief Sean Whent has utilized ShotSpotter for over a year now, with support from the program from Mayor Quan. The technology uses a combination of audio, optical and other sensor to triangulate where a gunshot came from, and inform police of the area.
The gunfire data also provides other insights into crime in Oakland. In high crime neighborhoods, citizens rarely call to report gunfire. Last year, only 13 incidents were reported, while ShotSpotter was attriubted to reporting 98% of gunshots. Part of the problem is a general mistrust of police, especially in certain neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, while shootings may be down, robberies are still a major problem for Oakland. In 2013, Oakland won the unfortunate distinction of the nation's robbery capitol for a third consecutive year. That accounted for one robbery for every 82 residents, 44% higher than the fourth-ranked Detroit. Now, Berkeley may be seeing some of the spillover crime as there has been a shrp increase in home burlaries.
In one area, near Francisco and Grant, the home burglary rate has moe than doubled. Areas around Cal have also seen an increase in burglaries. There has been a 220% increase in burglaries in January and February over last year. Part of the proble, according to Berkely Police Public Information Officer Ethell Wilson, is that people are leaving valuables in plain view. Items such as laptops and cameras are left inside the home in a place where passersby can see them from the street, tempting would-be criminals. In reaction, police are increasing patrols in the harder hit areas.
For over 30 years, attorney Lynn Gorelick of the Gorelick Law Offices has specialized in defending people charged with committing crimes in the East Bay. If you have been arrested for theft, assault-and-battery, drug possession, shoplifting, domestic violence, gun charges, or other criminal charges — including DUI — there is still time to keep the conviction off your record. You do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested. Contact your local East Bay criminal defense attorney, Lynn Gorelick. She knows the courts, she understands the law, and she will make sure you get the justice you deserve. Call for your free consultation today.