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Captain: Key to reduced crime is community involvement

Det. Lt. Ignacio Somano explains a crime trend of vehicle thefts over the last week using a SMART Board in the Captain's Conference Room at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Wednesday morning. Austin Dave/The Signal

Crime is down, according to the latest numbers crunched at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, and while Capt. Robert Lewis is pleased with the results, he says success lies in the station’s cozier relationship with the community.

With more and more SCV residents responding to the station’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign and alerting deputies to suspected crimes or crimes in progress, deputies are jumping on more opportunities to investigate and make an arrest where warranted.

About 500 more arrests were made in 2018 compared to the number of arrests made last year — or, 1,800 arrests this past year compared to 1,300 arrests made last year.

With the proliferation this past year of homeowners installing doorstep video surveillance technology, more video images of suspicious people are passed along to deputies.

“The biggest thing to remember is that although crime is down this year over last year, we don’t want the community to let their guard down,” Lewis said Wednesday.

“We want them to continue to be vigilant,” he said.

On Wednesday, Lewis sat down with The Signal to share a number of suggestions he believes would enhance the relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and the community.


Although unable to predict crime, deputies make ample use of technology to gather information, plot it on an SCV map and calculate where they should focus their attention.

If the numbers show a cluster of car burglaries occuring on a particular street, for example, that’s where deputies would focus their attention

Residents wanting to know where and how crime unfolds in the SCV can see what the deputies see by going to, which displays current law enforcement data on a map.

“Anyone can log on to and keep track of what’s being reported in their community,” said Lt. Ignacio Somoano, who runs the SCV Sheriff’s Station’s Detective Section.

Deputies use an enhanced version of the same crime-mapping technology.

“Based on this, we do special operations,” Somoano said. “We brief some of our 24-hour operations and also some night-time saturation patrols.

“We use this map and other resources to put strategy together, and assess crime trends,” he said. “So what we ask the public to do is be alert, keep an eye out, be vigilant and report crimes to the sheriff’s station.”

Car burglaries

One crime trend deputies keep responding to lately is the increase in car burglaries.

With the proliferation this past year of doorstep video surveillance cameras installed by homeowners, an increased number of video images depicting suspected burglars are being shared with deputies.

In one such video demonstrated by Lewis on Wednesday, car burglars are seen walking zombie-like down a darkened suburban street, stopping at cars, peering inside, trying the car door, then slowly walking away.

The simplest way to reduce car burglaries, Lewis said, is to keep your vehicle locked.

As well, a point deputies cannot stress enough is for residents to keep nothing of value in their vehicles.

To make his point, Lewis stops the video surveillance of “car checkers” to show a burglar used the flashlight app on his phone to shine inside parked vehicles.


Another crime trend identified and addressed is the increased number of out-of-towners coming into the SCV to commit crimes such as mail theft and burglaries.

“We have to stop people coming into the Santa Clarita Valley to victimize us,” Lewis said. “We’re becoming victims of people who are coming in and committing crimes of opportunity such as when people leave their vehicles unlocked.

“Especially this time of year, we need to stay vigilant, as a community, together, in order to stop some of this crime,” he said.

Community-based policing

Whether it’s a rash of car burglaries, or break-ins or thefts, the most effective way of battling crime is constant and frequent communication with the deputies.

“Because we work closely with the community we have really lowered the crime in Santa Clarita,” Lewis said. “We can continue to lower it if we stay in partnership, and stay in the direction of (newly sworn-in) Sheriff Alex Villanueva, continuing our community-based policing model, Santa Clarita will be one of the most vibrant community policing programs.”


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