Medford crime report a mixed bag

The numbers are in for the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and Medford is looking okay.

The report, created by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was issued last week.

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Medford Police Chief Richard Meder said the local numbers reflect what’s going on in Burlington County.

There was a slight increase in violent crime in Medford in 2010, from five reported incidents in 2009 to eight last year.

Most nonviolent crime is down from 2009 to 2010: Property crime, from 282 cases to 234; burglary, 65 incidents to 43; larceny — theft, 212 cases to 188; motor vehicle theft, from five to three; and arson, three incidents to zero.

Meder said the high marks are because Medford has a very proactive police department that is very vigilant in the community.

He pointed to the fact that there were no homicides in 2009 or 2010.

Meder said he is not surprised by the results.

“They were pretty much consistent with what we’ve been seeing throughout the year,” he said, noting the information is “somewhat” useful.

“It doesn’t give a true picture in my opinion of what exactly is occurring,” Meder said.

He said the UCR has very specific definitions that don’t necessarily meet what he considers things in the state of New Jersey.

For example, the UCR guidelines say a burglary has to be in a structure, so burglary from vehicles does not appear.

“That number is not indicative of what we see,” Meder said.

The UCR also has a strict guideline for rape which does not include certain types of sexual assault.

While they are useful numbers, the chief said they can be interpreted a number of different ways.

“I think this is only one way of ranking safety,” Meder said. “It’s one tool of many tools that can be used to do that.”

In recent months there has been an uptick in burglaries from unlocked vehicles not only in Medford but also in nearby communities. Residential burglaries are also up.

Meder said a number of things factor into rising thefts, including the economy and narcotics addicts. He said many arrested are trying to support their habits.

“I would love to see crime continue to come down,” Meder said, noting he is proud of the fact that nonviolent crime was down in 2010 from 2009. “I’d like to see that continue to come down in 2011.”

And while there was not a significant increase in violent crime in 2010, the chief said he would like to see that number come down as well.

Other stats released in the report include the population in Medford, 2010–22,914, 2009–22,872; forcible rape, 2010–1, 2009–0; robbery, 2010–3, 2009–0; and aggravated assault, 2010–4, 2009–5.

The Uniform Crime Reporting Program was conceived in 1929 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to meet a need for reliable, uniform crime statistics for the nation. In 1930, the FBI was tasked with collecting, publishing, and archiving those statistics.

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