Larcenies, burglaries and criminal mischief incidents decreased year-over-year from 2011 to 2012 in Port Jefferson Station and Terryville, according to Inspector Robert Oswald, commanding officer of the Suffolk County Police Department's Sixth Precinct.
Addressing the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association on Tuesday night, Oswald said that overall, more than 11,000 calls came in during 2011, which decreased to approximately 10,000 in 2012. He described the area as "a basic, solid, middle class community that has issues like every other one."
Though he could not immediately cite specific numbers of incidents, Oswald delivered these statistics: Larcenies were down close to 32 percent, residential burglaries were down about 40 percent, and criminal mischief incidents were down 21 percent.
"The most common crime in neighborhoods is larceny because we leave stuff in our cars. Sixty-five percent of all burglaries are through open doors and windows," he said. "Take the normal precautions."
Arrests for assault – which includes domestic incidents – were up approximately 26 percent. Total arrests were up 16 percent in 2012, which Oswald attributed to "more aggressive policing, because all the other crimes are down."
But, he said, the majority of the crimes committed are related to one thing: the prescription drug epidemic.
"That’s the fertilizer to all the crime in every community," Oswald said. "... That’s where the real problems lie. [It] leads to the larcenies. It lies with the middle class to upper middle class communities."
The prescription drug epidemic was one factor that led Suffolk County Legis. Kara Hahn, D-Setauket, to sponsor legislation that equipped police cars in some precincts with the anti-opiate overdose drug Narcan and trained the officers to administer it in cases where they are the first responders. That pilot program is being expanded to all the precincts in Suffolk, the SCPD recently announced.
Thieves "are now heading for your medicine box before your jewelry box," Hahn told the crowd at Tuesday's Civic Association meeting.
However, despite the statistics Oswald delivered, some in attendance said they were still concerned.
"I understand what you’re saying, the numbers are going down," said one resident. "The more I live here the more I want to get out because I just don’t feel safe anymore. ... I don’t understand with all this disruption how your numbers can still be down."
In response, Hahn said she had been out on a recent ride-along in the area and has confidence that the officers are "checking out the places they need to be."
"Port Jefferson Station has made it it a case and I think [the police] have responded in a very positive way," she said. "I feel very good about the responsiveness to this group’s complaints."