Violent Crimes Mount in Areas

Article excerpt

While the number of violent and property crimes decreased in the United States in 2009, those crime rates increased in about half of municipalities in Westmoreland and Fayette counties, according to statistics released this week by the FBI.

Of 29 police departments listed in the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, 13 had violent crimes increase, 13 experienced a decrease and three recorded no change. Fifteen departments had property crimes increase, 12 had a decrease and two showed no change.

Nationally, the FBI report shows that violent crime in the nation dropped for the third consecutive year.

There were 5.3 percent fewer reports of violent crimes and 4.6 percent fewer property crimes than in 2008, according to the federal government.

Last year was the seventh consecutive year in which property crimes have declined, defying predictions by some that such offenses would rise during a recession.

Nationwide, the rate of violent crimes for 2009 was 429.4 offenses per 100,000 people, a 6.1 percent decrease from 2008, according to the FBI. The property crime rate was 3,036.1 per 100,000 persons, a 5.5 percent decrease compared with 2008.

Each of the four violent crime categories decreased nationwide: homicide, down 7.3 percent; robbery, down 8 percent; aggravated assault, down 4.2 percent; and rape, down 2.6 percent.

Motor vehicle thefts fell 17 percent, larceny was down 4 percent, and burglaries dropped 1.3 percent nationwide.

Statistics for Greensburg showed decreases in both violent and property crimes between 2008 and 2009. There were eight fewer violent crimes in 2009, while property crimes decreased from 528 to 419.

"I would hope that our patrolling at nighttime slowed down our crime rate," said Greensburg police Capt. George Seranko. "We've made some good arrests on people through the night breaking into homes, breaking into cars. Hopefully, that is what curtailed the problem."

Seranko commended residents who have taken an active role in notifying police of suspicious behavior.

Jeannette police Chief Brad Shepler, who took over the force in May, said he was surprised that his department had a decrease in property crimes from 197 in 2008 to 159 in 2009. …