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Pittsburgh Experiencing Decrease In Overall Crime, Increase In Burglaries

With Pittsburgh boasting a 25% decrease in overall crime during the last six years, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl recognized public safety leaders today for their successful efforts. However, the mayor said because of a spike in burglaries he is calling for a partnership between officers and the community to combat local crime.

Ravenstahl described what he called a three-prong approach to effective public safety. "First we invest in technology; second, equipment; and then third, the training for our officers to go out and do the job and increase their ability to crack down on crime," Ravenstahl said.

The new technology includes mobile data terminals in police vehicles as well as in-car printers and cameras. He said neighborhood cameras, positioned at intersections, provide police with tips or license plate numbers. Ravenstahl said these devices allow officers to be on the streets more and do their job more effectively.

Number of Part 1 crimes in the city of Pittsburgh, 2003-2011

Referencing charts depicting the decreasing crime rate, the mayor said Pittsburgh has done a far better job than other cities. "Not only are we reducing crime here, but we are reducing crime better and quicker, more than many of our counterparts that we compare ourselves to, so we should be proud of the work that we're doing," Ravenstahl said.

Overall Crime Down, Burglaries Up

However, Michael Huss, Director of Public Safety, said despite the city's positive efforts, burglars are becoming an increasing problem. "Reality is we're seeing a spike in burglaries this year. They're up twenty-one percent or so on the year and what we believe we need is we need help from the community to help address that," Huss said.

Last month, the mayor introduced the Block Watch in a Box kit, which comes with the necessary tools and information needed for residents to work together in fighting local burglaries. Nate Harper, Chief of Pittsburgh Police, said the block watches have proven to be effective not only in catching criminals, but in improving relations among community members.

"There's communication between the residents on this street. They aren't strangers, and when they know who their neighbors are and they're looking out for each other, that builds a better bond for the neighborhood, as well as a better bond with us as the service of doing the police work through law enforcement," Harper said.

With summer now in full swing, Harper said it is important for residents to continue to work with each other and law enforcement. "We need to create more block watches. We need to alert more residents to be on the lookout for these type of crimes that are being committed," Harper said.