Residential burglaries in Buckhead have decreased dramatically after a spike in crime last year, with the 2017 number down by a third across Atlanta Police’s Zone 2.

The North Buckhead neighborhood experienced a 90 percent spike in residential crime in December 2016, but that trend has reversed.

Maj. Barry Shaw, the new commander of Buckhead’s Zone 2 police district. (Special)

Zone 2 Commander Maj. Barry Shaw cited his shift in focus from traffic citations to patrolling for crime.

“At the beginning of the year, we changed the focus of our crime suppression team,” he said.

When Shaw was assigned Zone 2 commander in late 2016, he made immediate changes to officers’ duties. Traffic citations were once the focus, because crimes in Buckhead were often committed by people from people coming from outside of the area. The thought was that they could be caught through traffic stops, he said.

Since Shaw changed the focus, both the North Buckhead neighborhood, which is located between Roswell and Peachtree-Dunwoody roads, and Zone 2 have seen major decreases in residential burglaries.

From January to October 2016, North Buckhead reported 22 residential burglaries, according to the Atlanta Police Department’s crime database. In 2017 over the same time, the neighborhood reported nine, representing a 59 percent decrease. During the same months in 2016, 386 residential burglaries were reported in all of Zone 2. In 2017, 267 were reported, representing a 31 percent decrease, according to the database.

Larcenies from cars reported in North Buckhead dropped from 65 to 40 between 2016 and 2017, according to the database.

The North Buckhead Civic Association reported a similar decrease in its October 2017 newsletter. It used numbers calculated by analyzing crimes reported on streets the NBCA considers its “core residential area,” which is not defined in the article, so the numbers reported could not be verified by the Reporter.

Gordon Certain, president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, could not be reached for comment for this article.

Shaw also said the decrease can be attributed to an emphasis on “arresting the right people at the right time,” which has led to a 38 percent increase in burglary arrests between 2017 and 2016, Shaw said. His team made a key arrest early this year of one person, Jaleme Haslett, who police believe was responsible for 24 to 25 burglaries.

“He was one of the main reasons we had the spike in December 2016,” Shaw said.

Shaw said Zone 2 uses the Operation Shield public security camera system “constantly” to help locate suspects, but the heavy traffic flow in Buckhead can make finding a suspect difficult.

The camera program, done in partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Buckhead Community Improvement District, has helped police find suspects, but Shaw said finding a suspect in Buckhead is difficult unless police are given a limited window of time the suspect could have passed a camera and a description of the car.

The NBCA also reported in its newsletter that crimes decreased while I-85 was closed in April 2017, but Shaw said he doesn’t believe the closure was directly responsible for the decrease.

“It probably helped us in areas around the bridge, but they would just go to another area to commit crimes,” he said.

Shaw said he will adjust his methods to continue the crime decrease, but is not planning any major changes.

While the crime rate is down, burglaries still occur. In a recent email newsletter, the NBCA described a report of a burglar who rummaged through the homeowners’ fridge for a prize to quiet their dogs.

North Buckhead resident Traci Provesan said in the report that a burglar fed the family dogs four filet mignon steaks.

“We found the package on floor. Must have been first thing they did. Smart,” Provesan wrote the NBCA.