Whether classified as serious or petty, crime as a whole has been steadily decreasing in Verona and Cedar Grove, according to a report by the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety.
The Uniform Crime Report, which was released in July and updated Aug. 15, is completed every six months. This year’s report shows that crime rates in Verona dropped 60 percent between the months of January and June, compared to the same timeframe in 2013. In Cedar Grove, crime declined 45 percent this year compared to 2013, according to the report.
In the last five years, Cedar Grove has gone from 30 to 35 incidents of burglary in 2009 through 2011, to less than 20 cases in the last two years, according to Cedar Grove Police Chief Richard Vanderstreet. This year, as of Aug. 15, there have been 12 burglaries in the township, Vanderstreet said.
Explaining that the numbers are not always as clear as they are portrayed, the police chief offers an example of how the data, although accurate, can be misconstrued.
“Of the 12 burglaries in 2014, [five] of them occurred during the same day in February in the Cedar Grove Garden Apartments on Pompton Avenue, likely by the same suspect,” Vanderstreet stated in an email to the Times.
Data in the report is calculated based on information provided by local police departments. The report is updated when charges are cleared – either dropped or a defendant was found not guilty of an alleged crime.
In Cedar Grove, the report shows that from January to June, 8 percent of burglary offenses were cleared.
Cedar Grove’s success in reducing crime is due to the police department examining offenses and looking for trends, Vanderstreet noted.
“For example in 2012, Cedar Grove, along with many NJ communities, began to experience burglaries in the early evening hours of the winter months. In response, we began to concentrate our patrols in residential neighborhoods during the peak hours. These efforts resulted in a marked reduction in incidents,” Vanderstreet stated in the email to the Times.
There has also been significant drops in burglaries in Verona, with the report showing a 76.5 percent decrease in unlawful, forcible and attempted forcible entry. The township went from 17 incidents in the first half of 2013 to four incidents during the same timeframe this year.
Simple Assault and Robbery
The overall number of Cedar Grove simple assault cases dropped 66.7 percent in the first half of the year, from 15 in 2013 to five in 2014, according the report. Of the 2014 total, the report showed that the suspects involved in all offenses were cleared.
There were no aggravated assaults or firearm related robberies in Cedar Grove this year, according to the report.
Verona, on the other hand, has had one firearm related robbery this year, which mirrors stats from 2013. There were no simple assaults or strong armed robberies this year.
Larceny and Motor Vehicle Theft
In Cedar Grove, three of 20 larceny cases this year where the suspects were cleared of criminal charges – still a 37.5 percent decrease from the 32 cases that were reported in 2013 between the months of January to June. There were no motor vehicle thefts in Cedar Grove this year.
The report shows improvements in Verona’s crime rates as well, with a 44.7 percent decrease in larceny, going from 38 incidents at the start of 2013 to 21 incidents this year. Declines in Verona’s motor vehicle thefts, 10 to one, amounted to a 90 percent decrease from 2013 to 2014.
Violent and Non Violent Crimes
In total, Verona’s violent crimes dropped 2 to 1, and its non violent crimes, 65 to 26, according to the report. The one violent crime reported involved a gun, according to the state’s data.
In June alone, the report shows Verona had an 81.8 percent decrease in overall crime compared to June of last year.
Meanwhile, Cedar Grove’s June numbers showed a decline from 15 to nine incidents in overall crime between the two years. The township’s violent crimes, four to 0, and non-violent crimes, 48 to 32, resulted in an overall crime drop of 44.8 percent.
So far this year, the data shows a noteworthy improvement from the five violent and 140 non violent crimes during 2011 and the three violent and 98 non violent crimes in 2012, according to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety’s Municipal-County Offense and Demographic Data.
Most municipalities in Essex County had lower crimes rates in the first half of 2014. The only cities that have not followed the trend are Bloomfield, East Orange and Orange with up to 9 percent increases in overall crime rates, according to the state report.
“We have been reaching out to the community to assist us in our crime prevention efforts by limiting the opportunity for crime to occur, by locking and alarming their vehicles, securing valuables, and alarming their homes when they are away,” Vanderstreet stated, adding that for extra security measures, he and his officers ask the public to report suspicious activity.
Verona Township Mayor Bob Manley said he’s proud of what the local police department has accomplished.
“Our town has the reputation of being a warm, welcoming, and supportive community, and this report simply lends credence to that fact. Our dedicated police officers maintain order, and go out of their way to assist residents with professionalism and compassion. Looking to the future, I am absolutely confident that as we continue in the traditions I’ve listed above, Verona will remain safe,” Manley stated in an email to the Times.
Verona Police Chief Douglas Huber was unavailable to comment as he was away on vacation.
Verona Police Captain Mitchell Stern did not return multiple calls from the Times.