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Crime down countywide

SCV sees slight rise in violent, property crimes

Posted: September 21, 2009 10:23 p.m.
Updated: September 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
While violent and property crimes have dropped 11 percent overall in areas patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department compared to last year, the Santa Clarita Valley's crime rate increased slightly, according to figures released Monday.

The Santa Clarita Valley saw a 5 percent jump in reports of violent crimes and a 1 percent decrease in property crimes. Combined,
violent and property crimes increased by 1.5 percent, according to the figure.

From Jan. 1 through Friday, the SCV had four reported homicides, 25 forcible rapes, 124 robberies and 276 aggravated assaults.

Last year, there were two homicides, 16 rapes, 119 robberies and 270 aggravated assaults.

But Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Brenda Cambra said Santa Clarita is still one of the safest cities in the nation.

"In 2008... our crime rate was at a four-year low," Cambra said. "And while we've continued our enforcement efforts, it's difficult to go lower and lower, and so an increase of 1.5 (percent) over the last year is still a very low rate."

The Santa Clarita Valley has a crime rate of about 149 crimes per 10,000 people - about 10 percent lower than it was five years ago. In comparison, the Sheriff's Department's highest-crime area, West Hollywood, has a crime rate of 370.

The SCV has seen a nearly 17 percent increase in burglaries, larceny thefts increased by about 1 percent, and grand theft auto increased by about 58 percent.

Cambra said the local crime percentage increases are partially due to arsonists and burglars.

"We had a series of 12 arsons committed by the same person," Cambra said. "He was arrested. ... We've (also) been talking about issues with burglaries ... but we were certainly targeting them early this year."

Burglaries surged early this year in two upscale areas near freeways - the Hasley Hills area of Castaic, near Interstate 5 and Fair Oaks Ranch, which sits east of Highway 14.

Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's deputies have arrested more than 200 suspected burglars this year because of deputies' efforts and neighborhood watch strategies, Cambra said.

In Los Angeles County, violent crimes from Jan. 1 through Friday dipped for the entire county by 10 percent in comparison to last year's figures.

Homicides made the largest decline in the county with 153 this year, a 23.5 percent drop from the same period last year.

Property crimes also took an 11 percent dip.

The decline occurred despite Sheriff Lee Baca's prediction that crime would rise during the recession.

"The sheriff believes that the reason the crimes stayed low and is dropping is because the Sheriff's Department did not decrease any of its patrol and, in fact, in some areas, increased," sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

The patrol increases occurred despite the economic downturn and severe budget cuts facing the department, Whitmore said.

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