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Serious Crime Dropped by 22 Percent to Begin 2022, CPD Report says

Five Cambridge Police Department officers, pictured in 2014.
Five Cambridge Police Department officers, pictured in 2014. By Tiana A Abdulmassih
By Brandon L. Kingdollar, Crimson Staff Writer

Serious crime in Cambridge dropped by 22 percent this January, according to a monthly crime report released Monday by the city's police department, which showed 47 fewer violent and property crimes than January 2021’s total.

The reduction in the crime rate was primarily driven by a steep drop in property crime, the city’s analysis showed, with 50 fewer incidents of crimes such as larceny, burglary, and auto theft. While the combined total fell, violent crimes alone increased as compared to January 2021 by 18 percent, representing an additional three incidents of violence.

Developed by CPD’s crime analysis unit, the city’s monthly BridgeStat report is part of a broader “data-driven approach” that seeks to identify patterns in crime to better allocate department resources, Cambridge Police Department spokesperson Jeremy Warnick wrote in an email.

According to the report, the increase in violent crime was partly the result of an additional five street robberies from last year’s January total. Street robberies include all robberies against individuals, rather than businesses, such as incidents of “purse snatching” and mugging, Warnick wrote.

In contrast, Cambridge experienced four fewer aggravated assaults for a decrease of 29 percent, per the BridgeStat report. Of the 10 assaults last month, half occurred in the 500 to 600 block of Massachusetts Avenue — an area within the city’s Central Square neighborhood. This reflected a continuing trend of a high rate of aggravated assaults in that area since the start of the pandemic.

Warnick wrote that the high rate of assaults in this area can partially be attributed to the concentrated business district it houses, as well as its proximity to the Central Square T station and local service providers.

Though total property crime rates have fallen, the report highlighted a 5 percent increase in larceny from motor vehicles last month, with a five-year high of 44 incidents. This followed last year’s steep increase in such crimes, with 42 taking place in January 2021 as compared to just 16 one year prior.

According to the CPD report, more than one-third of the incidents last month were thefts of catalytic converters, the majority of which were from Toyota Priuses — a trend that began with a series of thefts in January 2021 in Cambridgeport. Though the rate of these thefts ebbed and flowed throughout 2021, they spiked during the last two months of the year.

CPD issued an advisory on Jan. 6 warning residents about these thefts, about half of which took place in North Cambridge. The advisory went on to explain that catalytic converters, which are part of a car’s exhaust system, are often stolen because of the precious metals they contain that can be sold and scrapped.

The city saw a large decrease in bicycle thefts last month, with a 71 percent drop from January 2021’s five-year high of 38 bicycle thefts. The report said this decline was “likely due to the colder weather and snow this year.” A nor’easter during the last weekend of January brought 14 inches of snow to Cambridge.

The BridgeStat report was a preliminary analysis of Cambridge’s 2021 total end-of-year crime statistics, which showed a 7 percent increase in serious crime from 2020. The city experienced 2,440 serious crimes in 2020 and 2,599 serious crimes in 2021. This continues a trend of gradually increasing crime rates also observed in 2020.

According to Warnick, the total figures from 2021 are subject to change and will not be finalized until CPD releases its annual crime report this spring.

— Staff writer Brandon L. Kingdollar can be reached at brandon.kingdollar@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter at @newskingdollar.

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