Break-ins top police concerns in North York

[attach]3364[/attach]North York’s 32 Division rang in the new year with some good news for residents: According to year-end reports, crime in the area has decreased from 2009 to 2010.

“Six percent overall from last year,” Unit Commander Robert Clarke was happy to report.

“I’m happy to say that this is one of the safest places to live in the city,” Clarke said of an area bounded by Dufferin Street, Steeles Avenue, Bayview Avenue and Eglinton Avenue.

In particular, auto thefts saw a 19 percent drop, while theft over $5,000 fell 20 percent. The number of assaults and sexual assaults remain virtually unchanged, and are well below the city’s average totals.

Clarke said the division’s affluent population is not prone to these violent crimes, but is more vulnerable to property crime.

“Break and enters have always been a problem here, and continue to be one of our main concerns,” he said.

Though break-ins were down six percent in the area last year, Clarke stressed the importance of staying on top of safety measures to protect the home.

“Nearly all break-ins happen during the day when nobody’s home,” he said. They simply knock on the door to see if you’re there.”

Street robberies in the area did increase by nine percent in 2010.

“It’s occurring a lot among youth,” said Clarke. “They all are carrying expensive electronics” like music players and laptops.

To combat this problem, Clarke has increased the amount of officers on foot patrol, both those in uniform and plainclothes officers to catch robbers in the act.

For Clarke, 2010 marked a crackdown on traffic issues in 32 Division, including drunk driving, the leading cause of criminal death in Canada.

He said the division saw a nearly 20 percent increase in the number of driving under the influence arrests.

“We focus on property crimes a lot,” Clarke said. “But when someone’s valuables are stolen that’s one thing.

“They’re not being injured or killed.”

As 2011 kicks into gear, the superintendent said he’ll be focusing on getting the community more involved in matters of safety.

“We need the residents to continue to form a strong partnership with the police,” Clarke said.

“The better our relationship is, the better we can address their needs.”