Slight crime increase seen last year in City

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 27, 2016

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe City experienced a slight increase in crime from 2014 to 2015, but the community remains a fairly safe one.

In the recently released annual report for 2015, Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni acknowledged that index crimes — the more serious types of offenses — rose by 3 percent over 2014 levels, from 103 incidents in 2014 to 106 in 2015. 

The largest increase in index crimes came in the area of larcenies, which rose from 78 reported incidents in 2014 to 85 in 2015. The only other index crime category that saw an uptick was armed robbery, which rose from zero incidents in 2014 to two in 2015. Burglary and home invasion remained at 2014 levels, with 13 incidents in each of the last two years. Vehicle theft was cut by more than 50 percent, with only three incidents in 2015 compared to eight in 2014 and 10 in 2013.

There was a more substantial increase in non-index crimes — considered less serious offenses — which rose from 130 in 2014 to 150 in 2015, but Poloni said much of that increase could be chalked up to “more aggressive enforcement” by new officers on the force. He noted that 16 of these incidents were related to arrests for drunken driving or driving under the influence of drugs. 

Narcotics incidents more than doubled last year, to 17 in 2015 — up from seven in 2014 — and arrests for operating while intoxicated went up from 31 in 2014 to 37 in 2015. As a result of intoxicated driving and drug offenses, Poloni said the City also saw a “significant increase” in the number of arrests last year.

The combination of index and non-index crimes may have risen from 2014 levels — when there were 231 incidents — and 2013, which saw 226 incidents, but the 256 offenses in 2015 are well below figures from just a few years prior. In 2011, there were 302 index and non-index crimes, while in 2010, there were 299.

In June 2015, the City experienced a string of bike thefts from the Village. According to the report, police were able to track down a suspect associated with the larcenies through a surveillance operation. Detectives also discovered a home where stolen bikes were being sold. In addition to arresting the suspect, they were able to recover several of the bikes that had been taken.

Other notable crimes that the detective bureau resolved last year included an attempted home invasion in August, a fraud ring involving a home health care worker, an embezzlement involving a store employee, and a bank robbery.

Poloni said they saw an increase in fraud and identity theft, and that’s a trend that law enforcement expects will continue. Fraud, a non-index crime, rose from 27 reports in 2014 to 32 in 2015.

“With this information age that we’re in, we anticipate we’ll continue to see an increase in that,” he said.

Because the perpetrators of such crimes often operate overseas, Poloni said these crimes are “very difficult” to solve. Criminals involved in identity theft and similar crimes are becoming increasingly sophisticated with regard to information technology as well, making them harder to catch.

City officials were generally happy with the results from the report.

“Thanks, public safety, for keeping us safe,” City Councilman Andrew Turnbull said during a March 21 council meeting. “Even with some (crime) numbers (being) higher, the arrests are (also) higher. We’re moving in the right direction.”

After the meeting, Mayor Dale Scrace likewise praised the Public Safety Department.

“I think it’s a great report,” he said. “All in all, I’m very pleased with where the department is and the fine work they’ve done. I only see things getting better.”

This summer, the Public Safety Department will be getting some new equipment to help with policing efforts. City Councilman Christopher Boettcher said the nonprofit Grosse Pointe City Foundation decided to purchase two new mountain bikes for the officers to use. 

“That should save some gas,” Boettcher joked.

Anyone wishing to read the full 2015 annual report can find it online at www.grossepointecity.org.

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