Burglaries in Maplewood township increased by 82% in 2012, the largest increase in several years, according to Police Chief Robert Cimino.
"We need the public to work more with us to report suspicious activity," said Cimino in an interview after Tuesday's Township Reorganization Meeting. Mayor Vic DeLuca said in his State of the Township address that the overall crime rate in the township had gone up by 27% in 2012.
As of early December, the number of burglaries in Maplewood in 2012 was 104, compared to 57 in 2011 and 106 in 2010, said Cimino.
Rates of violent crime, including robberies, remained stable, said Cimino. He also noted that the arrest rate increased by 34%, from 460 in 2011 to 619 in 2012.
"Although the year has been particularly challenging with crime, Maplewood officers have been working hard to combat the increase in crime throughout the year as evidenced by the 34% increase in arrests in 2012," said Cimino, who noted that the statistics are preliminary.
He continued, "Fortunately Maplewood has maintained a consistently low violent crime rate over the past five years as compared to neighboring communities. Maplewood Police will continue to work to improve community involvement in crime prevention efforts, such as the Neighborhood Watch program, to assist officers in combating" the criminal activity.
"If we could have one neighborhood watch group on each block, that would be great," said Cimino.
Township Committeeman Marlon K. Brownlee, who also chairs the Public Safety committee, said the township would launch a new initiative this spring to partner with residents to combat crime. The effort will build on work the township has done with neighborhood watch groups and the Jacoby Street area community meetings.
"This community building effort will be an ongoing partnership between residents and the township, providing regular opportunities for neighborhood groups to communicate with each other and for the township to communicate with these groups regularly on matters that are important to everyone," said Brownlee.
Brownlee said in addition to the police and fire departments, the effort will include the Department of Public Works, Code Enforcement and the Health and Recreation Departments, among others, enabling departments to better share information on issues across the township.
"The township has often wanted to have a more effective means of communicating with residents, on everyday matters and when faced with challenging circumstances like Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and last year's ice storm, and this will contribute to this effort as well," Brownlee said.