2014 crime rate plunges

Reported incidents of crime in Rahway plummeted by almost a third last year, one of the largest drops in Union County in a year when most neighboring towns reported double-digit decreases as well.

Countywide, reported crime was down almost 5 percent in 2014 while statewide it was down 11 percent, compared with Rahway’s drop of 32 percent, according to recently available statistics from the state’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR).

Rahway has consistently seen crime rates dropping over the past decade, according to UCR data, but nothing like 30 percent in a year. Other than a nearly 10-percent spike in 2011, crime has been on the decline since about 2008 when it was flat:

“While the numbers are great, at some point you need to hit a number that it flattens out, and we may be approaching that number,” Police Chief John Rodger said.

In Union County, only Mountainside, which reported just 24 incidents, saw a larger drop in crime (56 percent) than Rahway. Seven towns in Union County saw reported crime increase compared with 14 that reported decreases; in 2013, 16 towns reported decreases.

Neighboring towns also saw marked decreases, including Linden, down 14 percent (1,509 incidents); Clark, 7.4 percent (150), and Roselle, 20 percent (538). Other towns neighboring Rahway outside of Union County also reported large declines: Carteret was down 16 percent (571 incidents); Edison down 11 percent (1,443); Metuchen down 16 percent (219), and Woodbridge, also down 11 percent, to (2,332).

In Rahway, reported crime was down 32.4 percent, from 615 incidents to 416 overall. Violent crime dipped 12 percent, from 50 to 44 reported incidents, while nonviolent crime was down 38 percent, from 452 to 281 incidents, according to the latest UCR data, for 2014.

crimeVirtually every category of crime was down in Rahway, led by a 33-percent drop in motor vehicle thefts (43 in 2013 versus 29 in 2014). Assaults remained the same, with 23 reported in each year but burglary was down 32 percent (92 incidents to 63). Larceny was the largest category, with 189 incidents, but still down 40 percent from the 317 incidents in 2013.

The clearance rate is up significantly (37 percent) over the previous year, something the police chief credited to the patrol unit as well as programs established in 2013 like a canvassing system. “Our patrol staff has been doing an outstanding job and we have anti-burglary and anti-robbery details out,” he said. Often, criminals working a certain area might be responsible for a number of cases, so when they’re caught, multiple cases could be cleared.

I’ve updated my longitudinal spreadsheet of Rahway’s UCR data going back to 1997. While data compilation by the UCR is tweaked over the years, making a direct comparison not quite consisent, it’s still striking to look at some of the numbers. For instance, last year’s crime rate is essentially half of what it was in 2005, and almost a quarter of where it stood in the late 1990s.

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