The crime rate in South Brunswick increased by about 12 percent in 2010, according to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data released this week by the FBI.
The report contains data from law enforcement agencies across the nation on violent and non-violent crime. In 2009, the overall crime rate in South Brunswick dropped from 22.3 per 1,000 residents in 2008 to 10.4 per 1,000 residents, before experiencing an increase in 2010.
"We're doing the best we can with the resources we have to reduce crime trends," said Chief Raymond Hayducka in a statement. "When looking at the crime rate, it's best measured over a period of time rather than one year to another. , so we think we're on the right track with the manpower we have to address the needs of the community."
The South Brunswick Police Department is down from 82 officers in 2008 to 70 officers currently on staff.
"We're not putting less boots on the ground, our staff numbers working the streets remain the same," said police spokesman Sgt. Jim Ryan. "Some of our other units like the detective bureau and traffic officers have fewer numbers, but we've kept the same number of officers on the road. We're all working with the resources we have, this economy is difficult on everyone, so we have to work with the means we have."
Incidents of violent crime in South Brunswick, which include robbery, assault and murder, dropped from 32 incidents in 2008 to 24 in 2009. Incidents of violent crime increased to 31 in 2010, according to the UCR.
Incidents of non-violent property crime, which include burglary and theft, dropped from 475 incidents in 2008 to 405 incidents in 2009. That number increased to 466 incidents in 2010, with 343 larceny/theft incidents and 99 burglaries.
Burglaries have increased steadily over the last few years. In 2007, there were 41 reported burglaries, which increased to 60 reported in 2008, to 79 reported in 2009, and finally to 99 reported in 2010.
"Property crimes and burglaries typically spike in difficult economic times," Sgt. Ryan said. "With more residential developments comes more opportunities for burglaries. We have aggressively tracked down pattern burglars and work with the county and state to identify these individuals. We have a higher closure rate on successful cases for incidents that do occur than most other communities and we have been able to track down most of them and bring them to justice."
Incidents of rape went up from one in 2009 to two in 2010. There were four reported incidents of rape in 2008.
Robberies decreased from 13 incidents in 2008, to 10 incidents in 2009, and to 9 incidents in 2010.
Motor vehicle theft went up from 20 incidents in 2009, to 24 incidents in 2010. There were 28 incidents of motor vehicle theft in 2008.
Incidents of arson dropped from one in 2009 to zero in 2010.
As recent widespread police layoffs have affected the entire state this year, the crime figures may experience a significant spike in the 2011 UCR, according to Sgt. Ryan.
"We're seeing a lot of communities with reassessed priorities as far as what the police departments can and can't do anymore," he said. "When you look at the numbers, there are almost 3,800 less officers throughout the state than there were on Jan. 1, 2010. The loss of that many officers will obviously have an impact. The majority of those losses were in major cities like Newark, Camden, Atlantic City, Trenton and some others. They're all seeing a significant reduction in law enforcement officers and that will have an impact."
Although there are less officers on staff, Sgt. Ryan said the relationship between South Brunswick Police and the community has helped police bring most of these criminals to justice.
"In South Brunswick we're lucky because most of our major cases we've been able to solve because we have great partners in the community," he said. "That's what separates us from a lot of communities. We have residents who are engaged and supportive. That partnership makes us successful in apprehending a lot of these criminals."