City crime rate sees double-digit jump so far in 2024 

Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station are investigating a reported shooting that occurred in Canyon Country on Wednesday evening. Oscar Sol/For The Signal.

While most categories of violent crimes are down in the Santa Clarita Valley, property crimes are way up, which led to a significant statistical spike in Part-I crimes for an area that includes a city regularly considered one of the nation’s safest. 

Crime has continued on an upward trend since the pandemic, when the shutdown helped drive crime down to its lowest rate in modern history — largely because everything was closed, SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez said at a recent community event. 

Part-I crimes — incidents ranging in severity from burglaries to murder and a wide range in between — are up nearly 22% in the city for the first four months of 2024 compared to the same time last year. In the county, that figure is nearly 36%.  

There were 1,419 Part-I crimes used by the FBI to calculate an area’s per capita crime rate, reported in the first four months of 2024. Of those, 1,281 or 90.3%, were property crimes.  

The lion’s share of those, just over 850 incidents, were larceny theft, which is the unlawful taking of property from a business or of another person’s property. 

“The retail theft has really become the name of the game,” Diez said in a phone interview Thursday.  

The numbers represent a troubling multiyear trend, but Diez cited several factors that come into play, starting with the baseline year of 2020 representing a historic low.  

The station reported a total of 3,163 Part-I crimes in 2021, according to LASD data available on the department’s Transparency Promise website, which represented about 140 more incidents than the previous year, Diez said. In 2022, the number increased by more than 400, to 3,595.  

In 2023, the figure rose to 3,945.  

If Santa Clarita continues its pace for the first four months of 2024, the city would end the year with more than 4,250, a 7.7% increase over the previous year. 

Diez said there are multiple factors that play a role in the rise, particularly in property crimes.  

The station has maintained its traditional numbers for monthly arrests. However, about 46% of the cases presented since late 2020 have not been filed by the District Attorney’s Office. Another challenge he’s identified but can’t quantify is if a felony case is presented and then a misdemeanor is charged. 

Those cases are a combination of what are considered “DA rejects,” which means prosecutors declined to file it, possibly due to policy, or due to a question about the case. 

The list of individuals the station has arrested multiple times has grown exponentially since the station started tracking the numbers at the request of the city, Diez said.   

Store policies also have created a challenge, he said. 

He said the traditional calls that officers and deputies used to get regarding meeting a store employee about a theft are “a thing of the past.” 

He also praised Best Buy’s concierge-style approach, which employs a store greeter whose job is to notify a department if a customer is headed their way, with helping to reduce incidents at that store significantly. 

“A lot of these large retailers, due to risk management issues, have either cut or completely stopped their loss prevention,” Diez said, “and employees are directed not to get involved and not to call the police after the suspects have left and you know, completely left the property, which obviously means ran away or drove away.” 

He said regardless of store policies, the station has no plans to change its enforcement efforts, which include visibility patrols and proactive policing efforts. 

“We’re still maintaining just over 400 arrests a month, which is great,” Diez said, “a lot of those are proactive arrests, which of course is an arrest before a crime happens, as opposed to after.” 

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