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SCV's 2012 crime rate rises nearly 8 percent over previous year

But sheriff's officials note rate has dropped over 5-year period

Posted: January 10, 2013 10:15 a.m.
Updated: January 10, 2013 10:15 a.m.

Crime in the Santa Clarita Valley was up 7.74 percent in 2012 compared to the year before and rose in all areas, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said Wednesday.

But the numbers must be weighed against three years of the lowest crime rate seen locally in a quarter of a century, the valley’s top cop said.

“We are still witnessing record lows,” said Capt. Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

“We hit our absolute low in 2010,” he said. “We did go up, but we are doing pretty good in the Santa Clarita Valley when it’s all said and done.”

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released its year-to-date crime statistics for all county stations, including the local one.

They show the crime rate in the Santa Clarita Valley has dropped by 32.92 percent in the last five years.

Still, Becker promises to pay particular attention to those crimes showing a prominent increase. Forcible rape leads in that area, showing an increase since 2007.

All other crimes that are tracked by the department — criminal homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, grand theft auto and arson — have dropped in numbers from five years ago.

In 2012, local detectives investigated 42 incidents of forcible rape compared to 25 in 2011.

“We break down each and every one of those reports of forcible rape,” Becker said.

“For the vast majority of these, the perpetrator is known to the victim,” he said.

Becker made the point in an effort to assure residents that many of the reported rapes are not crimes committed by strangers.

One of the most promising trends witnessed in the breakdown of the latest numbers is Santa Clarita Valley’s murder rate.

Last year, only one homicide was logged — the stabbing death last month of Franco Olea, 28, of Newhall. That compares to six criminal homicides in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2011.

Property crimes such as burglaries and larceny theft rose by 4.96 and 2.31 percent, respectively, over last year.
The biggest jump — aside from forcible rapes — involved incidents of aggravated assault and grand theft auto.
The number of assaults rose by almost a third — from 242 assaults in 2011 to 314 last year.

Grand theft auto rose from 283 to 386 in the space of a year.

Sheriff’s investigators saw no increase in the number of arsons, with 33 purposely-set fires in 2011 and exactly the same number seen in 2012. However, over the past five years there’s been a 37.88 percent drop in arsons.

Asked about his crime priorities, Becker said he still wants to focus on reducing heroin use in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“We remain very heavily focused on the heroin issue,” he said. “This is a trend that is nationwide.”

Becker said other law enforcement agencies have approached his department for advice on how to address heroin in their communities.

His station has adopted a three-prong approach to battling heroin — enforcement, intervention and education.

More than 800 local kids are now actively taking part in an antidrug program aimed at students in junior high schools.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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