Serious crime in York City dropped 11 percent from 2011 to 2012.
The city saw decreases in the number of murders, rapes, robberies, larceny thefts and motor vehicle thefts between 2011 and 2012. However, burglaries increased slightly, as did assaults.
Combined, 2,205 of those crimes were reported in 2012 in York, according to crime statistics released late last week by the Pennsylvania State Police on Friday. That compares to 2,478 the year before.
Police Chief Wes Kahley said the decrease is in keeping with the long-term drop in crime the city has seen. He called it "anomaly" when crime increased in 2011 compared to 2010.
"It's kind of hard to say that one thing is causing it," Kahley said.
Statewide: The decrease is in keeping with crime statistics from across the state that shows crime is on the decline.
According to state police, there were 917,029 crimes reported in the state last year, compared to 928,145 crimes reported statewide in 2011 -- a 1.2 percent drop.
In York County, there were 17 murders, 16 of which were in York City.
Of the other violent crimes, there was a total of 1,065 rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults in 2012, down from 1,305 in 2011. Robberies had the biggest decrease, according to the UCR report.
The report is based on crime statistics submitted to the Pennsylvania State Police by law-enforcement agencies across the state. The numbers are subject to change as police departments update or review their reports, according to state police.
Programs: Kahley said it's difficult to say what drives crime numbers up and what helps decrease crime, but said the
department will continue with ongoing initiatives.
"We're still pushing forward with the programs we've been doing," he said.
Those programs include neighborhood patrol units and a gates project that saw free lockable gates installed in breezeways between houses to block access to hiding places for guns and drugs, as well as escape routes for criminals.
Gates were installed mainly in the west end of the city, and police have already seen results. Kahley said there was a 22 percent drop in crime there between 2011 and 2012.
Though it's difficult to say what causes crime to fluctuate, Kahley pointed to community/police relations, such as the gates project, as a means to curbing crime.
Partners in the project include the Women's Giving Circle, York Builders Association, Kinsley Construction, the York County Community Foundation, York Habitat for Humanity, Salem Square Neighborhood Association, Dentsply, York City and the York County Youth Development Center.
"Criminals have to know that people living in a community are tired of the crime and are working with the police department," the chief said. "The more assistance we get from the community to stop and prevent crime, the better."
Community help: Chief Greg Bean of Southwestern Regional Police also said reaching out to the community is a key to modern police work.
The department held an open house last week where residents had a chance to meet police officers and officers got to get to know the people they serve and to learn about issues they may have.
During the open house, Bean encouraged those in attendance to act as the eyes and ears of the department that serves Heidelberg, Manheim and North Codorus townships, as well as Spring Grove.
"If there's an increased chance of being caught, you might not commit the crime," he said.
But officers are also doing their part. Bean said the department conducts aggressive patrols and officers are doing more than simply taking incident reports. They also provide aid -- sometimes through a third party -- to crime victims to better get to the issue at hand and help victims.
Southwestern Regional saw an decrease in serious crime from 2011 to 2012, from 164 incidents to 120.
Brazen: Though burglaries in the county decreased, Chief Bryan Rizzo of Northeastern Regional Police said some burglars have become more brazen.
The department, which covers East Manchester Township, Mount Wolf and Manchester, has seen an increase in daylight burglaries when homeowners are usually away at work, he said.
That crime, and others such as retail theft and robberies, are generally the result of another crime -- drug use.
"When people are using drugs, there are more thefts," Rizzo said.
Northeastern Regional also saw a decrease in serious crime from 188 incidents in 2011 to 174 in 2012.
Other factors: Springettsbury Township Police Chief Tom Hyers pointed to two other factors for an increase in larceny thefts in the township.
In 2011 there were 881 larceny thefts in the township. That jumped to 938 last year. Hyers said "the overwhelming majority," or about 80 percent, of thefts were retail thefts.
One factor was an alleged retail theft ring that operated out of West York. Police there arrested more than 130 people, including alleged ringleader James Lee Giuffrida, 31, earlier this year.
Hyers praised the work of the officers of the small borough police department for their efforts to crack the ring.
The other factor, Hyers said, is the sheer magnitude of stores in the township.
"We have one of the larger retail corridors in the county," he said.
Springettsbury saw a slight increase in crime, largely because of an increase in larceny thefts. In 2011 there were 1,000 serious crimes reported; in 2012 there were 1,039.
Spring Garden Township, York Area Regional, Carroll Township, Fairview Township, Hellam Township, Newberry Township, West Manheim Township, Hanover, Southern Regional and Wrightsville police departments all saw decreases in serious crime, as did state police stationed in Loganville.
Penn Township, Lower Windsor Township, Northern York County Regional, West Manchester Township, Stewartstown and West York police departments saw increases, according to the data.
To see breakdowns of crime by municipality, go to www.psp.state.pa.us and click on "crime statistics in Pennsylvania."
-- Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.