MIDDLETOWN – The number of index crimes in Middletown hasn’t been so low since 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first landed on the moon, the Jets and Mets won championships and Woodstock rocked a small town in upstate New York.
“This landmark reduction in crime reflects Middletown’s unwavering commitment to public safety,” said Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Ph.D. “It’s a testament to the fact that our Police Department has some of the nation’s finest and most dedicated officers.”
The Middletown Police Department has reported there were 520 index crimes in 2015, which equates to an Index Crime Rate of 7.82 per 1,000 people. Index crime decreased by 9.72% in 2015, down from 576 index crimes in 2014 when the Index Crime Rate was 8.66 per 1,000 people. Overall, the Index Crime Rate has decreased by more than 23 percent since 2013, when there were 677 index crimes and the Index Crime Rate was 10.18 per 1,000 people, said Police Chief R. Craig Weber.
Index crimes are murder and non-negligent homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, and arson, Chief Weber explained.
“We had to comb the archives and go all the way back to 1969 to find the last time there were fewer than 520 index crimes recorded in Middletown. In 1969 there were 496 index crimes. Although there were 24 fewer crimes 47 years ago, the Index Crime Rate would have actually been higher at 9.18 per 1,000 people because the population was lower,” Chief Weber said. He noted the population in 1969 was approximately 54,000; today it’s approximately 67,000.
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Under Weber’s watch, the number of burglaries in 2015 was also at a 15-year low with 86 burglaries reported, which was a 25 percent decrease from 2014. Comparatively, there were 245 burglaries recorded in 1969. There were also 42 cars reported stolen in 1969, compared to nine cars stolen in the Township during 2015.
“At this point 2015 marks Middletown’s safest year in nearly five decades,” said Chief Weber who took the helm in 2014. “I’m very proud of the outstanding job our officers have been doing. The amazing record-breaking results they have achieved with these historically low crime figures speak for themselves.”
Police attribute some of their success to a more focused approach on crime, including anti-crime patrols. In the last year, patrol and plain clothes officers caught several suspects in the act of committing burglaries. Another factor has been the relentless investigation of criminal activity. For example, detectives were recently able to solve a burglary from 2013 based on fingerprint evidence and arrested a suspect, Chief Weber said. He noted that leveraging advanced technology and improved information sharing are other contributing factors.
“We are very pleased with the downward trend in crime. Middletown is a great town and we appreciate the ongoing support from the community,” said Chief Weber, a life-long resident.
There are nearly 18,000 agencies that report crime statistics to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Visit njsp.org to learn more about crime reports.