SCV crime plunges by nearly 24% since last year

Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean thanks several Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies: Mario Acosta, left, Tanner Sanchez and Chris Morgan, right, for their work in reducing the number of intoxicated drivers on the road. SCV-wide, crime is down by nearly a quarter, per Sheriff’s Department statistics.

Crime in the Santa Clarita Valley — both violent crime, such as assaults, and property crimes, such as burglaries — are down by an unprecedented 24% compared to last year, and the SCV’s top cop points to dedicated deputies and a vigilant community as the reasons for the change.

Statistics compiled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, comparing crimes reported in the first half of this year to the same time period last year showed a drastic drop in overall crime of 23.91%.

Violent crimes including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault dropped by 33.02%, while property crimes including burglary, larceny theft, grand theft auto and arson dropped by 22.76%.

“I can’t say enough words to thank the deputies and the community,” Lewis said during a sit-down interview at the SCV Sheriff’s Station this week, which included Lt. Ignacio Somoano, who heads the station’s Detective Bureau.

Lewis called the drop in crime “significant,” attributing it to a team of 160 deputies assigned to patrol 293,000 people in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The SCV is the third-largest community in Los Angeles County — and growing.

See something, say something

The captain credited the “see something, say something” campaign spearheaded by the SCV Sheriff’s Station, encouraging residents to report any suspicious activity.

The fact that residents are seeing suspicious activity and reporting it is the dynamic driving crime down.

“A lot of the time, we’re getting alerted by someone calling in because they saw something suspicious.  When they do, we have more cars on the street and we’re able to react in time and get there quicker,” Lewis said.

“And we’re arresting more people on more of those cases,” he said.

Lewis also credits “predictive policing,” in which the station’s crime analyst, Yvette McClain,  identifies crime trends, allowing sheriff deputies to respond accordingly.

“The kudos really go to the deputies out working with the community,” Lewis said.

“The deputies are out there now in a day and age where officers are killed for meaningless things.  They’re out there doing the work in though the odds are against them,” he said.

“And, they believe in something with this community. They believe in a safe Santa Clarita,” he said.

When it comes to keeping SCV residents safe, the latest numbers speak for themselves.

Assaults drop 42%

The number of aggravated assaults this year compared to last year dropped by more than 42%, with 112 cases reported between January and June in 2018, and 64 cases reported during the same time frame in 2019.

Robberies dropped by almost 29% from 69 cases last year, compared to 49 this year.

The number of rape cases stayed virtually the same with slight 3.23% drop.

And, although the same stats show one homicide this year compared to three last year, Lewis and Somoano promptly produced revised statistics showing that SCV’s only homicide this year was re-defined.

“It’s either manslaughter or something else, but it’s not a homicide,” Somoano said.

To which Lewis replied proudly: “We’ve had no homicides this year.”

Capt. Robert Lewis and Deputy Chris Germansen investigate the scene of a crime last June. Violent crimes including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault dropped by 33% in the last year.

Property crimes down

A quick look at property crimes reveals the same downward trend.

The most impressive drop was in the number of arsons — 18 arsons reported in 2018, seven so far in 2019.

The number of burglaries and incidents of grand theft auto were cut by a third year this year over last.

LASD officials reported 381 burglaries in the SCV last year, compared to 265 this year. For grand theft auto, those numbers were 188 in 2018 and 129 in 2019.

Larceny theft cases dropped by more than 18%, reflecting a change from 1,109 cases last year to 909 cases this year.

“The community is really stepping up and providing us with information about porch pirates and people stealing from cars,” Somoano said.

More eyes

“The more eyes we have on residential streets and the more eyes we have watching driveways and people’s cars, the more we’re able to solve crimes,” Somoano said.

“Our crime is way down,” Somoano said. “But that doesn’t mean the detectives are not busy.

“We’re now having little clues come our way, making them (investigations) workable,” he said. “So now we’re spending more time on cases that were not within the detectives’ reach in the past.”

Technology has been a big help, they said.

Many residents with doorbell videos are able to send images of suspects to detectives.

Somoano and the captain also praised the “business alliance” of local businesses sharing information they each may have which might be useful to others.

[email protected] 661-287-5527 On Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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