By Dan Murphy
The Back Bay has seen a 43-percent increase in violent and property crime so far this year, compared to 2015 – an upward trend that Boston police largely attribute to this winter’s much more temperate weather.
“At this time last year, we had about eight feet of snow on the ground,” said Sgt. Lucas Taxter, District D-4’s community service office, during last week’s Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay Public Safety Forum at the First Church in Boston.
According to the police crime statistics, 237 incidents of Part One crime were reported between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22, 2016, as opposed to 166 during the same time frame last year.
Zero homicides and no rapes or attempted rapes were reported in the neighborhood either year, but robberies were up 67 percent in 2016 as the number jumped to five from three the previous year.
Taxter said robberies in the Back Bay typically average about two to five each month and often occur in the neighborhood’s public alleys and behind Storyville, a lounge in the Copley Square Hotel.
“Robbery is a crime of opportunity and can happen anywhere, so be aware of your surroundings” Taxter added. “And always part with your property if someone tries to take it from you by force.”
The rate of domestic aggravated assaults remained the same, with one incident both this year and last, while in contrast, non-domestic aggravated assaults were down 50 percent as the number dropped to three from six in 2015.
The most dramatic spike occurred in residential burglaries, which saw a 450-percent increase as the number rose to 11 from two last year.
Commercial burglaries, on the other hand, were down 17 percent, dropping to five from six in 2015.
Larcenies from motor vehicles were up 138 percent, with 31 incidents in 2016, compared to 13 last year.
Since 2006, Area D-4, which includes which includes the Back Bay, South End, Lower Roxbury and the Fenway, has been the most active district for car breaks citywide, with the targeted vehicles left unlocked approximately 60 percent of the time, said Boston Police data analyst Anthony Stevens.
To avoid falling prey to a car break, residents are advised to not only keep the vehicle doors locked, but also to hide anything of value from plain sight.
“The suspects are usually people addicted to a substance who will break a car window for loose change,” Taxter said.
Other larcenies in the neighborhood were up 33 percent as the number rose to 178 from 134 in 2016, largely due to the prolific rate of shoplifting at Back Bay stores, police said.
Vehicle thefts in the Back Bay increased two-fold, with three this year, compared to one in 2015.