VALLEY SEES RISE IN SOME CRIMES OFFICIALS SAY INCREASE REFLECTS GROWING POPULATION, REGIONAL TREND.
SANTA CLARITA -- Robberies, aggravated assaults, rapes and thefts went up last year in the Santa Clarita Valley, but crime increases are in line with the area's growing population, city officials said Tuesday.
In releasing the yearly crime statistics, officials celebrated decreases in burglary and grand theft auto, which they attributed to the work of specialized teams of deputies who go after career offenders and reach out to the community.
Overall, major crimes edged down 1 percent, while the city's population increased 4.4 percent to 177,418 residents.
"It is rewarding to see that our community policing program here in Santa Clarita is paying off and that crime is down slightly overall, even though our population has increased," said City Manager Ken Pulskamp.
Santa Clarita is among the nation's safest cities of more than 100,000 residents, according to FBI statistics.
Sheriff's Capt. Anthony La Berge, commander of the Santa Clarita station, said he plans to break down the statistics to better understand them.
Regional crime trends, video surveillance and high-frequency offenders can all affect the statistics, he said.
The number of homicides in the valley stayed static, with three both years.
Robberies were up 22.6 percent, going from 106 in 2005 to 130 in '06, according to the Sheriff's Department. Robberies were up 6 percent in all areas patrolled by the Sheriff's Department, La Berge said.
"It's not just something unique to Santa Clarita, it's actually a trend going over the whole region," he said.
Thefts, not including burglary and auto thefts, were up 3.1 percent, with 2,186 incidents in 2005 and 2,253 last year. More store thefts may have been noticed and reported last year because of the increasing prevalence of video monitoring, La Berge said.
"We have to look at it and see; I wonder how much technology is assisting us in this category here," he said. "Are the numbers really increasing or are we just aware of more incidents?"
As for forcible rapes, there were 17 in 2005 and 26 last year -- an increase of 52.9 percent. But no serial rapist is driving the increase, and the spike is more noticeable because 2005 was a low year for rapes, La Berge said.
Crime statistics that showed notable decreases were burglary and grand theft auto.
The biggest drop was in grand theft auto, which went from 514 incidents in 2005 to 425 incidents last year, according to the Sheriff's Department. Burglaries were down 8.4 percent.
Those decreases were attributed in part to the work of the sheriff's Career Offender Burglary Robbery Assault (COBRA) team and its Community Interaction Team. The teams engage in stings, follow-up with probationers, surveillance and aggressive investigation work, authorities said.
There were 27 arsons in 2005 and 24 in 2006, a decrease of three incidents. Overall, the Santa Clarita Valley had 3,898 major crimes in 2005 and 3,860 in 2006, a decrease of 1 percent.
There were also 233 aggravated assaults last year, compared with 209 in 2005.
"The numbers are not very high when you compare it to other areas that are much more violent," La Berge said.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Feb 21, 2007|
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