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Reading's crime rate lowest in more than 2 decades, statistics show

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 22 2014 04:00:23 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 22 2014 05:25:37 PM CST

Reading's police chief is hoping new crime statistics will change people's perception of the city, but many residents aren't buying the numbers.

READING, Pa. -

Reading's police chief is hoping new crime statistics will change people's perception of the city, but some residents aren't buying the numbers.

According to statistics released this week, the crime rate in Reading is at its lowest level in more than two decades.

"The long-term trends are we're making progress," said Chief Bill Heim. "Having police officers at the right place at the right time and doing the right things that will interrupt and prevent crime."

Heim crunched the numbers and credits the drop to good police work and the crime reduction strategy put in place about seven years ago.

Leonard Luppold is not convinced. He has lived in the city for 30 years and said things are getting worse.

"I used to be able to walk up and down the street and now I'm afraid if I'm going to get jumped or robbed," said Luppold.

Heim said the statistics show the downward trend. The highest crime rate on record was 1996 with 8,200 part-one offenses, which include crimes like murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, auto theft and arson. Last year, part-ones were at a little more than 3,500 offenses.

"I actually think it's better in town now than it was 30 years ago, I really do," said Robinn Reidel, who lives in the southwest section of the city.

Hector Rivera doesn't agree. He lives on Cotton Street in the southeast section of the city, which the chief said is the worst for crime.

"I see people get shot over there at the corner on Cotton Street. That's crazy, you know," said Rivera, who moved to Reading two years ago.

"I'll never be satisfied until we have no homicides, no shootings and almost no crime," said Heim.

One crime that is up the past couple years is rape. Heim said the city still has many challenges, and the department now has a new standard of working with less officers.

"We need to keep the resources on the street and we need to keep police officers on the street to maintain the gains that we've gotten so far," said Heim.