Violence Rises, Property Crimes Drop

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday December 12, 2006

Violent crime incidents rose nearly 15 percent in the first nine months of the year, but some of the increase stemmed from paintball attacks during the spring and summer months that were recorded as aggravated assaults. 

The figures are reported in the quarterly crime report prepared by Berkeley Police Chief Douglas Hambleton for the City Council. 

Murders doubled—from two to four—but the 2006 figure was the same as 2004, while rapes increased from 15 to 17, compared to 14 in 2004. 

While aggravated assaults increased from 128 last year to 156—with 111 reported in 2004—most of the incidents accounting for this year’s rise were paintball attacks on pedestrians and motorists in which no injuries were recorded beyond bruises and welts. 

“These crimes are classified as aggravated assaults because there is a potential of more serious injury,” reported Chief Hambleton. 

The other violent crime that accounted for a large part of the increase was robbery, and here numbers rose from 256 last year to 283 this year, and 270 in 2004. 

While crimes of violence were on the rise—460 this year, compared to 401 in ‘05 and 399 in ‘04—property crimes were continuing to fall. 

While Berkeley currently records one of the highest rates of property crime in the Bay Area, this year’s total of 5,712 was down 6.7 percent from last year’s 6,125 and 15.8 percent from the 6,788 recorded in the first three quarters of 2004. 

Burglaries fell for the first three quarters of the year, dropping from 1,032 in 2004 to 945 in 2005 and 834 this year, with similar declines reported for theft (4,719 to 3,979 over the three years), auto theft (1,005 to 873) and arson (32 to 26).