The police department shared some end-of-the-year neighborhood crime statistics by holding a Dec. 13 town hall meeting for Police Service Area 3 (PSA3) of the 26th Police District.
Capt. Michael Cram addressed a large crowd in the basement of the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, at 701 E. Gaul St. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Angel Torres, a member of the city district attorney’s office, joined Cram as he discussed local crime prevention.
The 26th district is a “mid-level district,” Cram said, with between 65,000 and 80,000 residents.
The district is divided into three PSAs.
Cram said that throughout PSA 3 — which extends from Front Street to the Delaware River, and from about Poplar Street to Lehigh Avenue — homicides have been infrequent, with only three in the last year.
Instead, one of the bigger issues facing PSA 3 is property crime, with 1,400 incidents having been reported. “It’s amazing, the amount of property crimes in this area,” Cram said.
The crimes include home burglaries and thefts from vehicles. Cram said there has been a spike in robberies in the last month.
“What we find with burglaries is they’re not just stopping at one — they’re doing two or three,” Cram said of the thieves.
In an effort to stem these problems, Cram and his men “stay on top of the pawn shops,” he said.
Also, thefts from vehicles keep area police busy, Cram said, with more than 1,000 such thefts reported in the last year.
“Keeping valuables hidden doesn’t do any good,” Cram said.
Often, a criminal will simply target an entire block, breaking into vehicles haphazardly. They’ll break into a car even for just a few quarters, he added.
In the last year, 250 residential burglaries were reported in the neighborhoods of PSA 3.
“They use force and go through the back door or windows,” Cram said. “They’re gonna do it quickly.”
Of the 64 burglary suspects arrested, most are adult residents of PSA 3 and are repeat offenders.
“They are generational burglars,” Cram said.
Addressing the audience’s concerns about recidivism, Cram said, “It’s tough to keep ’em in (jail).”
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Cram turned to Torres, from the district attorney’s office, who noted that “community prosecution has been a huge success” in other areas.
By having an active community to help prosecute crime — for example, residents who will show up in large numbers during criminal trials — police are seeing results, he said.
Reading his list of criminal statistics, Cram said that PSA 3 logged 312 quality-of life arrests, including for underage drinking and public intoxication. There were 48 drug buyers and 44 sellers arrested in PSA 3 in the last year, he added.
“Our prescription narcotics in this neighborhood are bad,” Cram said.
But curfew violations and truancy are down.
Cram devoted the end of his presentation to ways the community can help the police do their jobs. With the help of a neighbor, the 26th district was able to take over a home on the 2000 block of Jasper St., a house that, police said, was home to drug dealers and prostitutes.
It took 451 radio calls, 183 e-mails, four arrests and one year to convince the courts that the house was a problem.
“We can’t do those things without the community,” Cram said.
After Cram finished his presentation, Commissioner Ramsey addressed the crowd.
Prostitution should be a big issue on the agenda, he said.
“We gotta get the ‘Johns,’” Ramsey said, referring to the men who pay prostitutes for their services.
He also encouraged the audience to attend hearings if they are the witnesses or victims of a crime, no matter how small.
He said he also hoped to implement training programs to teach landlords how to operate their businesses.
ldquo;I promise you that I’ll do everything I can,” Ramsey said. ••