In Hayward, Burglaries Dot the Entire City

PowerPoint slide showing burglaries in 2009.
PowerPoint slide showing burglaries in 2010.

PROACTIVE POLICING OR CLEVER POWERPOINT?
By Steven Tavares

The Hayward Police Department said last week they have been tracking a crime trend in the rise of home invasions in their city this summer. Lt. Sheryl Boykins told the city council the department has found a “significant increase” in the number of residential burglaries without commenting on any theories for the jump. From the first half of 2010, 646 break-ins were reported in Hayward as opposed to 614 during the same  time last year. The figures amount to a five percent increase, the department said, but whether the Hayward Police were merely posturing to appear busy or acting in a prudently pro-active manner is open to debate.

“Burglars are opportunists,” said Lt. Reid Lindblom. According to the police, most of the suspects arrested for burglary are out-of-towners. Forty-four suspects have been arrested since June, police said and many are not committing just a single crime, but many. “When criminals find a technique they are comfortable with they stick with it,” said Lindlom. “We recognize the techniques.” Burglaries in neighboring cities are also on the rise, they say, but problems in Hayward have persisted on a higher level. By comparison, other local municipalities, both larger and smaller than Hayward, have posted vastly lower levels of break-ins. In the first half of last year, San Leandro reported just 176 burglaries; Union City, 165, while the largest of the four–Fremont–reported 435.

The crime reports filed by local police departments, though, are notorious for inaccuracies that help bolster rhetoric for increase policing and numbers in the field. The PowerPoint presentation presented last Tuesday, for instance employed a clever use of colors used to denote the burglaries in Hayward. The map representing last year (shown above) showed a clutch of pale green dots splashed over the map of the city. The identical map, below, to representing this year’s burglaries revealed bright blue dots, which at first glance, showed a more dire situation. After comparing the two visually numerous, the maps showed very little difference in the number or distribution of dots. Nevertheless, Lindblom declared, “If crime shifts, we’ll shift with it.”