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Chief: Crime stats rebounding to ‘pre-COVID numbers’

In November, Riverhead’s crime statistics “rebounded strongly” but in the wrong direction, Police Chief David Hegermiller said at last Thursday’s Town Board work session. 

“Unfortunately, I think it has to do with coming out of COVID-19 and resuming to pre-COVID numbers,” he said. 

November saw 183 criminal incidents reported, compared to 149 in November 2020, a 23% increase, and 100 incidents in November 2019, according to statistics provided by the Chief. 

The total criminal incidents from January through November in 2021 were 1,969 compared to 1,731 through November 2020, he said. 

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program only report violent crimes and property crime, said Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, a retired New York Police Sergeant, while the town’s statistics include lesser crimes like violations. 

Ms. Aguiar said that reporting practice is driving up the town’s crime statistics. 

Chief Hegermiller said the town’s statistics come from its records management systems and include all criminal incidents, as well as all non-criminal incidents. 

“Everything is reported,” he said. 

 An additional 100 identity crimes were reported this year. There were 167 identity crime reports in 2021, as compared to 64 through November in 2020. 

“That’s bringing up the crime rate,” Ms. Aguiar said. 

There’s little the town can do in such instances, she said. “You can investigate it after it happens, and be reactive, but you can’t be pro-active,” she said.

“We can’t stop somebody in Nigeria from hacking into someone’s computer and stealing someone’s identity and then purchasing things throughout the United States,” she said.

Councilman Tim Hubbard, a former town police detective, said he’s not uncomfortable walking around downtown or anywhere in Riverhead. 

“There’s a big difference between crimes that were random acts and crimes between known parties,” he said.

He thinks many of Riverhead’s recent violent crimes involved known parties. He said people who “stagger” around at 2 a.m. are also making themselves easy targets. 

Chief Hegermiller agreed. He said more than 70% of victims of violent crimes are known to each other. 

“The perception of downtown Riverhead is that it’s not safe,” Mr. Hubbard said. “I would argue that it is.”