Crime rate dips; burglary up, larceny down

Keeping with a pattern of falling crime rates throughout the county and state, Rahway’s crime rate dipped 9 percent last year, according to the state’s annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR), released last week.

Rahway had the seventh-highest crime rate within Union County, with 23.7 reported incidents per 1,000 residents, down from 26.4 in 2008, and below its five-year average of 25.2. The city’s drop was essentially all within nonviolent crime as violent crime was nearly unchanged with 89 incidents versus 90 the year before. Towns with comparable crime rates were Roselle (25.9), Union (24.6) and Kenilworth (21.4).

A 30-percent increase in reported incidents of burglary (145, up from 112) was offset by an 18-percent drop in larceny (389, down from 477). Burglary and robbery tend to be committed by opportunistic repeat offenders who tend to prey on a specific area until caught, said Police Chief John Rodger. A spike in robberies a year or two ago was the responsibility of one individual was eventually caught. “The economy affects property crimes, specifically those that provide a financial gain, and we have seen some of that,” he said.

“Most disturbing is that domestic violence continues to increase, which certainly is affected by the economy,” Rodger said. Domestic violence was up 8.6 percent (542, up from 499 in 2008, which was up from 396 in 2007, making for a 36-percent spike between 2007 and 2009). “Despite our best efforts at outreach, it’s difficult for us to solve problems within people’s homes unless they seek us out for help before it escalates into violence, despite our proactive measures. I look at this data in real time rather than historical to gauge problems that we can address proactively,” he said.

Overall in Union County, the crime rate dropped 11 percent, with a 4.4-percent decline in violent crime and a 14-percent decline in nonviolent crime. Eighteen of the county’s 21 municipalities reported a decrease in crime. Only Berkeley Heights and Fanwood reported increases (by three and two incidents, respectively) while Mountainside reported the same number in 2009 as in 2008. The median crime rate was in Fanwood (12.7 per 1,000 residents) with a high in Elizabeth (51.7) and a low in New Providence (7.1)

Here’s a breakdown of Rahway’s crime rates over the last five years, and the last 10 years.

***

For those interested in the modular housing being explored for artist housing near the Arts Guild, a 320-square-foot unit is on display this month at Charles and Washington streets in the West Village, according to this Wall Street Journal report. While we’re on the topic, The Brooklyn Paper’s “City rejects ‘Brownstone of the Future'” isn’t quite a mod home/shipping container, but it looks pretty similar and also is aimed at being zero-energy. It seems the city’s rejection was more of a zoning issue within Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.

Also, London’s Container City was featured in a recent msn.com photo gallery, and the same firm behind that (and Rahway’s concept) is working on a project at Lafayette Street in Manhattan’s SoHo/Chinatown area.