Crime rate dips in the SCV

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies interview a woman outside a Jersey Mikes restaurant in Saugus Jan. 27, 2017. (Austin Dave/The Signal)

Crime is down in the Santa Clarita Valley – not way down, but with fewer crimes in 2016 than the year before, according to the latest statistics tabulated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The crimes of forcible rape and grand theft auto, however, showed increases.

Overall crime, including violent crimes such as assault and property crimes such as burglary, dropped by 4.3 percent last year compared to the year before.

“The numbers are encouraging,” Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth told The Signal Tuesday.

Most notable in the LASD’s 2016 year-end statistics was that SCV saw almost half the number of homicides it logged in 2015. Last year, there were six homicides compared to 11 in 2015.

Violent crimes – homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – dropped by 7.3 percent from 2015 to 2016.

“You would hope that the number of murders and violent crimes in 2015 was an anomaly,” Smyth said.

Grand theft auto skyrocketed 31.6 percent last year and forcible rape increased 7.8 percent from 2015 to 2016.

At least 55 cases of forcible rape – as distinct from statutory rape – were reported in 2016 compared to 50 the year prior.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies responded to 485 cases of auto theft last year whereas they responded to 362 auto thefts in 2015.

“We want to make sure that the (Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s) Station has the resources they need to do their job,” Tony Bell, spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said Tuesday.

“Supervisor Barger is committed to public safety and ensuring that victims get the assistance they need,” he said.

The number of robberies in the SCV remained pretty much the same year-to-year, with 140 robberies in 2015 and 139

And the number of burglaries also stayed about the same with 829 in 2015 and 813 in 2016, averaging to more than two burglaries every day in the SCV for the past two years.

Property crimes including burglary, larceny theft, and arson – dropped by 4 percent.

Bell said he suspects some of the statistical reductions in the number of property crimes reported might be due to felonies being classified as misdemeanors under Prop 47. The sheriff’s department crime report did not include misdemeanors.

“Either way, we have to remember that victims don’t necessarily care about a drop in numbers,” he said. “And, any of these crimes is unacceptable.”

The state saw a further softening of rules for jail time in November 2014, when Californians voted in favor of the Proposition 47 ballot measure.

Prop 47 – also called the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act – reduced about two dozen nonviolent felonies such as shoplifting and drug possession to misdemeanors which, typically, carry less jail time, if any jail time at all.

Aggravated assaults were also down, with 242 incidents investigated in 2015, compared to 218 last year.

The final crime category tracked by the LASD was arson.

In 2015, there were 25 cases of arson as opposed to 22 the following year.
Aggravated assault and arson were on par or slightly down over the five-year period. Crimes in all other categories ticked upwards.

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