Crime category percentages decreased almost across the board in Bayonne when comparing 2013 to 2012, according to New Jersey State Police reports issued for each municipality.
Year-to-year comparisons are released by the State Police each spring, so the most recent annual numbers compare 2012 to 2013, the last full year for which statistics are available.
Bayonne saw decreases in 10 categories, including rape (-100 percent), robbery by weapon other than firearm or knife (-16.7 percent), assault with a gun (-57 percent), simple assault (hands, feet, etc.) (-24.9 percent), and burglary (-30.7 percent).
And though Bayonne saw increases in some areas, Acting Chief Drew Niekrasz, now head of the department after Chief Ralph Scianni’s retirement, cautioned that's because Bayonne has low numbers for many types of crimes; even a few more in any specific category can greatly skewer the numbers for the city.
That is why crime statistics are generally calculated based on 100,000 in population, so a fairer comparison can be made among municipalities of different sizes.
In areas like automobile theft, (+70 percent, 37 to 63) the increase could be due to Bayonne’s having two large automobile storage facilities and a ring of thieves stealing from them.
“’Operation Jacked,’ a joint effort of 16 different agencies, culminated in February 2014,” Niekrasz said.
In that operation, 29 men were charged with stealing high-end luxury cars from sites in New Jersey and New York for shipment overseas. A number of those were taken from the Ports America holding facility at the north end of the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, according to Niekrasz. Bayonne Det. Albert Roesinger was part of the task force.
“Basically, we can attribute 14 vehicles out of the 63” to that illegal effort, Niekrasz said. “It’s something we were actively working on, and there were a lot of recoveries from that job.”
With the breakup of the luxury-car ring, auto thefts went down dramatically in the new year, Niekrasz pointed out.
Statistics comparing the first five months of this year, versus last, were recently posted on the State Police site.
Those numbers show a decrease in auto theft of nearly 60 percent in the first five months of the year, from 29 in 2013 to only 12.
“And they’re not huge numbers of vehicle, which is why you have to be careful when you consider percentages,” the acting chief said.
Niekrasz is most proud of the Uniformed Crime Report reduction of almost 10 percent for overall crime in Bayonne for the first five months of 2014 as compared to 2013.
“We’re looking at this 9.9 percent reduction from January to May, this year versus last,” he said. “So we are seeing reductions across the board.”
While thefts of cars increased greatly from 2013 to 2014—mainly due to the organized ring— thefts of trucks and buses went down 15 percent in the city during that same yearlong comparison.
Even in a category in Bayonne where an increase looked astronomical: assault with a knife or cutting instrument (+100 percent), knife assaults only increased in occurrences from one in 2012 to two in 2013.
“Raw numbers are the key that tell the tale, not necessarily the percentages,” Niekrasz said.
Department’s best tool
And while the city works to give its law enforcement officers all the necessary tools to succeed, including a computerized system in place since 1988, the acting chief says decreases in crime are virtually always attributable to one factor.
“The best tool I have is my people,” he said. “The dedicated group of individuals in the uniform patrol division I believe are the key to our success there.”
While the department is working hard to greatly reduce all types of crime in all categories in the city, Niekrasz says a lot of the offenses occurring here are minor property crimes and minor thefts.