Crime stats in Birmingham see slight increase

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 10, 2012

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BIRMINGHAM — Just short of the release of the annual crime report for 2011, the Birmingham Police Department says that crime has increased in the city — but just barely.

According to Cmdr. Terry Kiernan, as of Dec. 1, 2011, Part A crimes had increased 1.737 percent from 2010. Part A crimes are described as robberies, burglaries, larcenies, fraud, computer crimes, vandalism and damage to property, and retail fraud. Those incidents went up from 748 in 2010 to 761 as of late 2011.

“Larceny saw the biggest jump, going from 167 in 2010 to 194 this year,” he said, but he added that sometimes numbers can be misleading. Despite the hike in larceny incidents, reports of robbery and assault are actually down from last year.

“The thing about crime in uptown is that there’s a perception to it. People will see there was an incident at South bar, where no one got charged and nothing came of it, but because of the media, people think crime is running rampant. For some reason, in Birmingham when something high-profile happens in town here, it gets blown out in the media and everyone gets to thinking that there’s all this stuff going on,” said Kiernan, referring to an incident Aug. 1 at South bar that landed two bouncers in the hospital.

Another culprit is false word of mouth, according to Kiernan.

“People call me up and say three people got killed, and I say, ‘What are you talking about?’”

If you ask Theresa Costello, owner of The Plant Station on Adams Road, it’s more than just rumors. Crime is not only up at her flower shop, it’s a regular occurrence, she said.

“I’ve been here for 15 years. At most we’ve had some flats stolen,” said Costello, who said her shop had incidents of theft and vandalism each week for four or five weeks leading up to the holidays.

Costello reported that someone tried to break into her store via a back entrance; another time, someone successfully entered the store through a smashed front window and broke windows and mirrors on the delivery van. Someone tried to hotwire her Bobcat utility vehicle, and 24 Christmas trees were stolen from the store’s lot Dec. 6, a loss of about $4,700, she said.

“We’re losing a ton of money; Christmas was a loss. You can’t replace those trees, they come out of North Carolina,” said Costello.

Kiernan said the incidents at The Plant Station are unique and are even unrelated to each other. He also said the department plans to increase surveillance of the store with patrols and camera equipment. He said that while crime is up for Costello, businesses in Birmingham are at no greater risk.

“There are just bad people in society who think that if something’s not nailed down, they can take it. And with this place, which has outdoor merchandise, it’s just the nature of the beast.”

Costello, however, thinks that crime is on the rise and hopes retailers will take warning.

“People need to know what’s going on to businesses downtown. My van was parked right on Adams when these windows were smashed out.”

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