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City ranks as 9th safest

• Santa Clarita among state's best in 6 categories

Posted: June 15, 2008 1:40 a.m.
Updated: August 16, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies gather at Hart Park in 2006 after a weapons threat at Hart High circulated on the Internet. Santa Clarita ranks as the ninth safest city in California, according to an FBI report.

While crime was up approximately 8 percent in Santa Clarita, the city still ranks among the 10 safest cities in California.

Santa Clarita is the second safest city, per capita, in Los Angeles County, and ninth safest overall among 65 California cities with populations more than 100,000, according to a report released by the FBI.

There were 8,334 crimes reported within the city limits of Santa Clarita last year, according to the FBI's 2007 Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, released last week. That compares to 7,696 crimes in 2006.

Despite the increase, the 2007 crime total was 18th lowest in the state, and eighth lowest in the county, according to a statistical analysis of the FBI report.

While the city did not rank as the absolute safest in any of the 10 statistical categories compiled by the FBI, Santa Clarita was definitely near the top of many of those lists.

"Santa Clarita is still a very safe city," said Gail Ortiz, city spokeswoman. "As a trend, the increase in crime does not keep up with the increase in population."

Reported crimes decreased in six of the 10 categories for which numbers were kept, including violent crimes, murder, forcible rape and robbery.

However, larceny thefts and crimes to property increased last year, with a 15.5 percent jump in larceny-related crimes. Property thefts increased by 9.8 percent in 2007.

A larceny occurs whenever a tangible piece of personal property is stolen. For example, an iPod stolen from a vehicle or home would qualify as a larceny. Conversely, property thefts include home or business break-ins.

Other crimes such as aggravated assault, arson, burglary and motor vehicle theft remained steady, according to the FBI.

The data used in the FBI study were from city law enforcement agencies, which submitted 12 months of complete information for 2006 and 2007. All statistics were gathered for cities with populations larger than 100,000 for both years.

For the city of Santa Clarita, which is monitored by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, the population reported to the FBI was 170,429.

With 8,334 crimes reported between January and December last year, the per capita crime rate in the city of Santa Clarita was 48.9 total crimes per 1,000 residents, the ninth lowest rate in California for cities with more than 100,000 residents.

The safest city in California was Thousand Oaks, which reported 4,190 crimes for 125,196 residents in 2007, or 33.5 crimes per 1,000 city residents, according to the FBI. Compared to the city of Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks reports more than 15 fewer crimes per 1,000 residents.

In previous reports, the city of Santa Clarita did not include cities such as Thousand Oaks in its statistical analyses. City officials typically compare Santa Clarita to cities with populations more than 150,000.

However, several cities with 100,000 to 149,000 residents would rank above Santa Clarita in terms of low crime rates if they were included in the city's annual reports.

For example, in addition to Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley (122,677), Sunnyvale (130,326) and Daly City (100,632) ranked higher than Santa Clarita in terms of low crimes reported per capita. Simi Valley's per capita crime rate was 41.9 per 1,000 residents, which was fourth overall; fifth-place Sunnyvale reported 42.8 crimes per 1,000; Daly City was ranked seventh with 48.2 crimes per 1,000.

Factoring out those four cities would improve Santa Clarita's ranking from ninth in California to fifth.

Robbery and motor vehicle theft were the two lowest per capita crime rates in Santa Clarita - both categories were ranked sixth safest.

The city had 412 reported motor vehicle thefts last year, according to the FBI report. That equates to 2.4 vehicle thefts per 1,000 city residents.

There were 112 reported robberies in the city limits of Santa Clarita last year, the equivalent of 0.66 robberies per 1,000 city residents.

The murder rate within city limits was also low, with only one such crime reported in 2007. That total was tied for fourth place among cities in the state with populations greater than 100,000 people, with three cities - Huntington Beach, Daly City and Costa Mesa - reporting no murders in their respective cities last year.

Santa Clarita fared worst in the arson category, where it ranked 30th among California's 65 largest cities, with 26 reported incidents of arson within city limits last year, or 0.15 incidents of arson per 1,000 city residents, according to the FBI.

Per capita, the category with the highest number of incidents was property crimes, with 22.2 incidents per 1,000 city residents.

There were 3,782 reported property crimes last year, which, as a total, ranked Santa Clarita 20th statewide.

"Basically, because Santa Clarita is geographically located between two valleys, it is considered an affluent area," Ortiz said. This can draw criminals to the area from elsewhere.

"There have been crimes committed by people outside the area, mostly property-related crimes," Ortiz said.

While Santa Clarita was near the top of the list of safe cities statewide, Stockton ranked lowest among the top 65 cities in California, with 45,843 crimes reported for a city of 297,170 residents, or 154.3 crimes reported per 1,000 residents.

The highest number of crimes in California was reported in the city of Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles Police Department reported 260,723 crimes to the FBI. While Los Angeles had the highest number of reported crimes, it ranked 29th among 65 California cities per capita with 67.4 crimes reported per 1,000 city residents.

Glendale was the safest city in Los Angeles County, and third safest in California, with 40.5 crimes reported per 1,000 city residents, or 8,106 reported crimes in a city of 200,049 residents.

In California, there were 1,374,747 crimes reported, according to the FBI. With a reported population of 17,547,962 in 65 cities, there were more than 78 crimes per 1,000 residents.

The reported crimes in the FBI study occurred within the city limits of Santa Clarita; the report does not include crimes in cities with less than 100,000 residents or unincorporated areas such as Stevenson Ranch, Castaic, Acton, Agua Dulce, Val Verde, Tesoro del Valle and portions of Canyon Country.

Per capita figures were calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes in a category into the reported population, then multiplying it times 1,000 to determine the crime rate per 1,000 city residents.


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