Sometimes people steal weird things. A quick look at the Birmingham Police Department’s incident reports will show strange tales of the things people will steal — from an entire bedroom set, to a $5,000 dollar dog, even a front door frame.
However, Lt. Sean Edwards, information officer for the BPD, says that burglary and robbery rates are on pace this year to be the lowest since 1984.
“These are some lowest numbers for robbery we’ve seen in 28-30 years,”Edwards said, referring to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report statistics for Birmingham.
This could have something to do with a national trend in which the frequency of property crimes have been on a downward trajectory. These crimes include: “Offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims,” according to the FBI crime statistics website.
The data shows that since 2008, the estimated number of property crime offenses in the United States has decreased by about 11 percent.
Furthermore, according the FBI crime statistics, “The 10-year trend showed that property crime offenses declined 14.1 percent in 2012 when compared to the 2003 estimate.”
A recent study published by neighborhoodscout.com named Birmingham as the 20th most dangerous city in the U.S. to live, based on crime statistics. The study shows 69.34 instances of property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Although the report states that the number of burglaries in Birmingham last year was 4,704, Edwards remains optimistic with the current trajectory of burglary and theft in the Magic City.
“We now see that our class one offenses — that is, felony crimes — is down from the numbers over the last several years,” Edwards said as he browsed through the statistics.
It may seem like common sense, but there are several things a person can do to avoid becoming a victim of robbery, Edwards explained.
“People need to be aware of their surroundings,” he said. “If you see two or more people blocking the crossway up ahead when you’re walking, maybe try crossing the street and going a different way.
Making eye contact is important too, Edwards said. Also, if a person does happen to come across a potentially threatening situation, making noise could be the difference in whether or not they get robbed.
“Each situation is different,” Edwards said, “But if a person gets attacked, you want to make enough noise so that someone can hear you — be vocal.”
Perhaps Birmingham’s improving crime stats are partly related to the Crime Stoppers hotline that was introduced last year — a new version of an old system. That program allows for people to phone in anonymous tips and potentially be rewarded for solid leads.
“That program has been very successful,” Edwards said. “We’ve been able to solve some great cases from tips that we got from people calling in. We were at ground zero with some of those cases and people called in with some great information that helped point us in the right direction.”