By: Pete Bridge
Point Park News Service
Bloomfield has long been known as a haven of quality Italian eateries and as a relatively affordable place for students and young people to live, but it has a huge problem on the streets.
Bloomfield ranks as one of the worst areas for motor vehicle thefts and general thefts in the city of Pittsburgh.
“Nobody can point their finger at the police and say they’re not doing their job. They can’t babysit every car in the city,” said Aggie Brose, the chair of the Public Safety task force.
According to the Annual Crime Report of Pittsburgh, Bloomfield has had 25 motor vehicle thefts in 2011. This was third to the 31 vehicles stolen from the South Side and 28 in Mount Washington. Also, Bloomfield had 214 reported general thefts in 2011 which was the seventh highest in the city of Pittsburgh.
In Bloomfield, the problem has caused residents to form a task force to stop it.
The Annual Crime Report of Pittsburgh classifies these thefts into two different categories, theft and motor vehicle theft. A motor vehicle theft is the official term for grand theft auto, while a theft is a report of a stolen item. There is not a category for items only stolen out of a car.
Brose and her group are working with the city’s Bureau of Public Safety to educate residents to be careful, lock their cars, and keep personal items in the trunk of the vehicle.
“Right now, the public awareness program is to remind them on a monthly basis to leave the junk in the trunk,” said Officer Mike Gay, the Crime Prevention Officer of Zone 5.
Along with the public awareness program, Bloomfield’s community newspaper, titled The Bulletin, has published several articles stating that residents need to lock their cars and be responsible. This publication is sponsored by the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and reaches 20,000 residents.
“It only takes a minute to break into the side window when they look in and see your wallet sitting in the front of the car,” said Brose.
This number is an increase from the year of 2010 where there were 22 motor vehicle thefts on record for the neighborhood. The reports do not state where the thefts specifically occur, but Officer Gay believes they are closer to the commercial areas.
“It’s pretty steady, it tends to be closer to the commercial areas, and not so much as for the residential areas,” said Gay.
Bloomfield has had more motor vehicle thefts than Beechview, Brookline, and Friendship combined in 2011. Aggie Brose believes the characteristics of the residents make them potential victims.
“The thing about Bloomfield is that you have a lot of professionals living in the neighborhood. You figure that they are with the briefcases, they’re with the cell phones, they’re with all of the technology and I guess they’re a target,” said Brose, who is also the Deputy Director of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation.
23-year-old Andrew Weller lived in Bloomfield when his vehicle had items stolen out of it on Sciota Street in early June.
“My glove box was open but intact. They only stole a tool set and roadside assistance kit,” said Weller.
Weller said that he choose not to file a police report on the theft, noting that he has lived in the area for two years without any incidents before the theft. Weller also said that he believes that most of the initiatives are sufficient, such as the lighting during the late hours.
“I suppose the only thing they could do would be to have a later patrol through the streets as opposed to just on Liberty Ave. I know that there are cops on beat over night, but they stay on the main drag,” added Weller.
Weller and many other residents in Bloomfield who have had their vehicle broken into made the decision not to file a police report, according to Brose. Usually, this is because the item that was stolen wasn’t valuable or they don’t want their insurance rates to go up.
However, Brose and many other officials urge that people report all thefts even if they items were not too valuable.
“It allows a commander from my zone and another commander to know where to deploy his officers to, where the action is, where the criminals are. That’s their guide.”