Crime decreased slightly in Hoboken from 2012 to 2013, according to statistics released last month on the state police web site. More recent statistics released at the end of June showed a slight rise when comparing January through May of 2013 with the same months in 2014.
From 2012 to 2013, the total number of crimes reported in Hoboken fell from 1,482 to 1,442. The total crime rate for Hoboken in 2013 was 1,122 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 6,491 in Jersey City and 12,481 in Newark.
“Even as Hoboken’s population has grown, crime has been on a downward trend for years and remains at a historic low,” wrote Juan Melli, the spokesman for Mayor Dawn Zimmer, in a statement.
Edelmiro “Eddie” Garcia took over as interim chief of the Hoboken Police Department this past Tuesday following the retirement of former Chief Anthony Falco Sr. Falco was honored with bagpipers and an honor guard salute as he left police headquarters on Hudson Street on Monday.
Violent crime and rape
The violent crime rate in Hoboken remained stable at 152 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, which was 1.3 percent higher than the rate in 2012. Violent crime picked up slightly in the first five months of 2014, reaching a rate of 70, which is 27.3 percent higher than it was during the same period last year.
“Most of the violent crime in Hoboken occurs on weekend nights,” wrote Melli in his statement. “We have significantly increased uniform presence from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. during these high activity hours by adding Class II Police Officers to supplement our police force.”
The number of aggravated assaults in Hoboken held steady, increasing from 96 in 2012 to 98 in 2013. Simple assaults fell slightly last year to 320, 17 fewer than in 2012. According to Police Lt. James Marnell, Commander of the Bureau of Identification, assaults are distinguished by the level of injury to the victim. Aggravated assaults involve temporary or permanent loss of use of a body part, whereas simple assault does not require a serious injury and can include slapping and pushing.
There was one homicide in Hoboken in 2013, the only one reported in the five years that Falco served as police chief. The infamous case involved a teen who allegedly punched a man in the head in an alleged “knockout game.” The offense was classified as a manslaughter, added Marnell, because the teen’s intent was apparently not to kill the man.
“Even as Hoboken’s population has grown, crime…remains at a historic low.” – Juan Melli
Marnell said he did not see any consistencies in the circumstances of the rapes that would suggest they had been committed by a serial offender.
However, one rape was reported between January and June of this year. It involved a man who sexually assaulted a woman in the hallway of an apartment building near First and Monroe Streets in early March. At the time, police released a description and artist’s sketch of the suspect.
According to Sgt. Anthony Falco Jr., the Hoboken Police Department has not apprehended any suspects related to the case. Sexual assaults and homicides in Hoboken are turned over to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for investigation. Falco said the prosecutor’s office had not informed Hoboken police of any apprehensions or arrests in the case.
Car theft, burglary down
Motor vehicle thefts fell significantly from 101 in 2012 to 62 in 2013, a decrease of 38.6 percent.
“This is a trend that has been going on for the last 10 years,” said Marnell. He credits better policing in Hoboken’s surrounding communities, where car thieves often come from, as well as the new Automatic License Plate Reader system recently installed in Hoboken squad cars. ALPR, as the technology is known, can scan all of the license plates around it during a patrol and alert officers if they are reported stolen.
Marnell also mentioned that some of the reported car thefts may have been false claims registered for the purpose of committing insurance fraud.
Burglaries also decreased notably from 151 in 2012 to 128 last year. Marnell said burglaries in Hoboken mostly involve residential buildings. Hoboken, he noted, “is a city where much of the population leaves for eight to ten hours a day” to go to work.
Larceny, robbery up
Larcenies in Hoboken increased by 37 to a total of 780 in 2013, the largest numerical increase in any reported category. This trend has continued into 2014, with 306 additional larcenies reported between January and May, a 9.7 percent increase from the same period last year.
Robberies increased by 9.3 percent in 2013, from 43 to 47. In the first five months of 2014, there were 25 robberies in Hoboken, up from 15 during the same period last year.
Larceny is the mere theft of the property of another person, whereas robbery must incorporate force or the threat of force or fear.
Chief Garcia attributed much of the growth in larcenies to a rash of package thefts from apartment buildings. Most packages are left in unlocked hallways or vestibules, so their theft constitutes larceny rather than burglary.
Garcia said thieves are attracted to communities like Hoboken by the prospect of valuable unattended property. “If you’re going to commit a robbery, would you go to a town like Camden or Trenton, or would you go to a community like Hoboken or Englewood Cliffs?” said Garcia. He does not believe an organized group is behind the thefts.
He added, “The young generation right now likes to shop online and receive packages while they’re at work. We’re trying to educate these people and see if they can have a local dry cleaner or local grocery store…take their packages for them.”
Annual reports on the number of crimes committed in Hoboken can be found on the State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety website, at http://www.njsp.org/info/ucr_currentdata.html.
Edelmiro Garcia was the highest ranking captain prior to his promotion, having served in the Hoboken Police Department for the past 41 years. Garcia was born in Puerto Rico but has lived in Hoboken since he was six months old. He has a wife and one grown son, a lawyer and councilman in Paramus.
In an interview on Wednesday, Garcia emphasized the role of uniformed officers in keeping crime low in the city. “Hoboken is a fairly safe community,” said Garcia, “and it is a safe community because of the members of the Hoboken police department and the fine work that they do.”