Much crime in Milwaukee is declining, but burglaries, auto thefts, robberies, and arson increased last year, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Violent crimes are down more than 23 percent in five years, with burglary a clear exception, up 6.5 percent last year. Police attributed the uptick in burglaries and auto thefts to historically high scrap metal prices, which have led thieves to target abandoned and foreclosed homes.
“(Burglaries) may be up 6 percent compared to last year, but it’s 11% over our five-year trend,” said Police Chief Ed Flynn. That means something to us. I’m not someone that believes that when the economy goes bad, suddenly factory workers become robbers. But I do believe that if new markets exist, they create a condition in which more people will go into an illegal activity they don’t perceive necessarily there’s a victim. We all know the devastating impact an abandoned house that’s been ripped up and gutted apart can have on a neighborhood’s stability, so there are victims of that crime.” Mayor Tom Barrett said the burglaries into vacant buildings ties directly into the mortgage and foreclosure crisis nationwide, and that more money is needed to tear down those buildings.