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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Bethlehem Has a Burglary Problem

Just before Christmas, Bethlehem City Council set the wheels in motion to borrow $16 million for annual bills as well as the annual pension contribution. They adopted a $65 million budget that eliminates 54 jobs, including two fire fighters, and put off a wage hike for nonunion workers until July. They also levied a 5.3% tax hike to pay for needed capital projects like a new EMS facility. The City had already borrowed $6 million for that, but amazingly diverted the money to medical coverage for City workers. After dealing with all these financial concerns, City Council learned on January 4 that the Christmas City has a new problem.


In response to questions from Council President Bob Donchez, Police Commissioner Stuart Bedics admitted there's a problem. "We have seen an increase in burglaries in December 2010." A new street crimes unit is devoting their resources to solving these crimes, which occur mostly on the City's south side. "We're putting more feet on the street," he stated. Bedics added that Lehigh University police do a nightly check on 110 residences near their campus.

Council member Karen Dolan expressed some concerns about panhandling, which she calls "aggressive begging." On three separate occasions over the last month, she's been accosted my three different "drugged out" or "drunk" people on the south side, asking her for money.

One south side resident agreed, stating "it is virtually impossible to shop on the south side without being panhandled." He added that his home has been burglarized five different times. "Do you know what it's like to be chasing people around the house in the middle of the night?" He likens the south side to a "war zone."

Statistics maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police through September confirm that there is a problem., Bethlehem has a higher crime rate than Allentown or Easton in 2010. According to the data collected through September, Bethlehem's overall crime rate up 4.18% over the same period in 2009. By contrast, Allentown is actually down 3% and Easton is down 9%.

Attempted burglaries have dropped 14% in Easton, while Allentown has experienced a 19% increase. This pales in comparison to the Christmas City, where attempted burglaries have skyrocketed 145%.

Maybe Callahan should hire a few more mounted police.
Updated 11:30 AM, Bethlehem Patch Provides More Detail. In a detailed account, Bethlehem Patch provides more details on what it calls a crime wave.


Anonymous said...

It's sad to read about the Christmas City's southside crime spree. Can we feel safe attending First Fridays?

Anonymous said...

oh, i thought you said "buggery"

Anonymous said...

ah,karen, did you actually have to mingle with the poor people? did they want some of your undeserved union pay? Run away to the mill with your little students. There's none of "those people" there.

Anonymous said...

what do you expect with the Sands. Check Atlantic City crime figures after the arrival of the casinos.

Anonymous said...

Agree that the sands might have something to do with that but bothe the city and the county who were given money with the casino agreement are using moneies for other things rather than what they were supposed to be directed to..Those monies were supposed to deal with issues that were impacted by the casino..However, since our legislators, lacking the usual wisdom to direct these monies, trusted the cities and the counties to do so..Ha hah hah ha . No one knows what northampton county is doing with theirs and the city, your guess is as good as mine. One problem here is that these morons who are yelling for tax cuts or no tax increase have the mistaken and ignorant idea that the local casino money was somehow for tax reduction purposes. Wrong Kimosabe! They were supposed to ameliorate the mpact of the casinos..The point here is " stop the tax cut bullshit and hire the cops before bethlehem's burglary rate continues to set records!

Anonymous said...

Tony Simao said...
Mr. Schantz was speaking at the courtesy of the floor on the issue of new fees being tacked onto alarm systems. He was basically pointing out that the ordinance is infringing on his personal rights to have to give his house keys to two people so that police may enter the house in case of an alarm. As well as having the God given right to be able to protect his own property.

From:" Lehigh Valley Ramblings "Did Bethlehem Police Over-React?"

Tony and Bernie the Penna. Constitution says:


1. That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
Getting a permit and paying a yearly fee to the city makes a right into privilege! NO?

In the second article of the Declaration of Rights, which was made part of the late Constitution of Pennsylvania, it is declared: 'That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding; and that no man ought or of right can be compelled, to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to, or against, his own free will and consent; nor can any man, who acknowledges the being of a God, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments, or peculiar mode of religious worship; and that no authority can, or ought to be, vested in, or assumed, by any power whatever, that shall, in any case, interfere with, or in any manner controul, the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship.' (Dec. of Rights, Art. 2.). . . (The Judge then read the 1st. 8th. and 11th articles of the Declaration of Rights; and the 9th. and 46th sections of the Constitution of Pennsylvania. See 1 Vol. Dall. Edit. Penn. Laws p. 55. 6. 60. in the Appendix.) From these passages it is evident; that the right of acquiring and possessing property, and having it protected, is one of the natural, inherent, and unalienable rights of man. Men have a sense of property: Property is necessary to their subsistence, and correspondent to their natural wants and desires; its security was one of the objects, that induced them to unite in society. No man would become a member of a community, in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labour and industry. The preservation of property then is a primary object of the social compact, and, by the late Constitution of Pennsylvania, was made a fundamental law. . . The constitution expressly declares, that the right of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property is natural, inherent, and unalienable. It is a right not ex gratia from the legislature, but ex debito from the constitution. VANHORNE'S LESSEE v. DORRANCE, 2 U.S. 304 (1795)

Creating governments is the instrument to maintain them--all Individuals composing the self-governing people impliedly and in effect consent to some degree of limitation of their freedom to have order in society. This does not involve the surrender, or the alienation, of any of these rights but only the partial, conditional and limited relinquishment of Liberty to exercise a few of them and solely for the purpose of insuring the greater security and enjoyment of all of them; and, moreover, such relinquishment is always upon condition that public officials, as public servants and trustees, faithfully use the limited powers delegated to government keeping within prescribed limits written in the contract AKA: A Constitution .

Tony and Bernie this was my point but I got tossed !

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mayor Callahan for thinking that putting a casino in Bethlehem was going to make this a better place to live! Ha! Not only are people unemployed and victims of higher taxes, they now have to be burglarized and live in fear so that people can go play the slots in hopes of having enough money to feed their kids. Let's fix societies ills with more sickness! Great idea! Better yet, let's take the casino cash that rolled into Bethlehem and spend it on God knows what when the city could have used more police officers prior to arrival of the Sands.

Anonymous said...

Crime spree probably not caused by the casino. More likely bad economy, drugs and/or gang financing. Crime up and 3 police officers cut in the 2011 budget -- with more cuts likely in 2011 as officers retire (per the Mayor during budget hearings). Yet we keep 3 fully trained and experienced officers on the backs of horses instead of in patrol cars because hay is cheaper than gas -- and the Main Street merchants think they are cute. These 3 officers should be catching criminals not tossing hay around and shoveling horse manure. Welcome to lala land.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the new Atlantic City where Calcutta lurks just a block from the Boardwalk.

Maybe mounted officers riding Flicka, Mr. Ed and Trigger can run the bastards down.

This is not your father's Bethlum.

Bill said...

If the incident rate was like 5 and it went to 14, not so big a deal. Any idea what the actual numbers are?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, Bill, I have them. I'll do a post about it. Fair point.

Anonymous said...

If it went from 14 to 5, a politician would brag about 2/3 drop. I guess the rate has tripled.

Anonymous said...

What was Tom Dietrich do at the Bethlehem City Council meeting?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"What was Tom Dietrich do at the Bethlehem City Council meeting?"

He thught he was at Northampton County Council. He's still there, looking for an exit.

Watch Dog said...

We can all thank the members of City Council for approving the cuts to fire and police budgets. Crime rates are on the rise while the number of police on the street is lowered.

In 2011 two sitting Councilmen are up for re-election; they'll tell you that they support a strong police and fire department "a safe city to raise a family" but amazingly enough those are always the first jobs to be cut. They praise one another for passing a budget that has the most cuts in years. These members of council would rather loose a few cops and firemen than put a stop to personal use of city vehicles by department heads who use city vehicles to drive to Bethlehem from as far away as Doylestown (90 mile round trip), or go to an Iron Pigs game with their wife, or drive to the casino at 8pm. Those are needed perks, the Mayor needs a car to ride in full time on our dime as well. God forbid he has to tighten his belt any!

A resident recently asked if the members of city council have no regard for the city, the short answer is no they don't because they’re too worried about who will be the next Mayor of Bethlehem. It's time for a change in Council.

Jon Geeting said...

Unlike the lack of revenue due to the recession, this is something you can actually blame the mayor and city council for. This is a failure to strategically manage police resources. Keeping the mounted police looks like a dumb idea in light of the rash of burglaries. That's an extravagance.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:46 you are an idealist. Bethlehem voters are not all that swift. Dochez and Reynolds will be the top vote getter's regardless of who runs.

Unless another Mower or some other patrician Bethlehem family runs the outcome is a mere formality.

This is like a big version of Mayberry RFD, when it comes to elections.

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh..Everyone keeps crying for tax cuts..City council cuts positions cause here is no revenue and now they are all crying about the increase in crime.
Cant have it both ways..if you want tax cuts you cant add police too..This is local government. Not the federal government...We can only hope that one of those who got robbed was a tea partier...That would be what one calls justice!

Anonymous said...

again Easton shines. Down in both categories again.