Violent and property crimes declined in Laguna Beach in 2017, data show

Violent and property crimes declined in Laguna Beach in 2017, data show
Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella speaks during her State of the Police Department address last year at the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach. (File Photo)

Reports of violent and property crimes declined in Laguna Beach in 2017 compared with the year before, according to data compiled by the Police Department.

The crimes, defined by the FBI as "Part 1" cases, decreased by 15% in Laguna Beach, which has a population of 23,190, according to data released Thursday.


Laguna had a 21% decline in reports of violent crimes — homicide, rape, robbery and assault likely to cause serious injury. In 2017, there were seven reports of rape (five fewer than the previous year), 13 robberies (a decrease of two) and 21 aggravated assaults (a reduction of four).

In 2016, the city saw an 18% spike in reports of violent crime compared with 2015, and Part 1 crimes jumped 10% overall, police said.

Laguna has not had a report of homicide since 2012.

Property crimes — including burglary, theft, auto theft and arson — make up the majority of crimes reported in Laguna Beach. Those incidents dropped by about 15% in 2017 compared with the previous year, data show.

Last year there were 358 thefts (78 fewer than in 2016), 30 car thefts (a reduction of six) and one arson report (a decrease of six), according to the data.

Officials linked the decline in thefts to an increased number of patrol officers on the beach. Those positions were funded through Measure LL, a ballot initiative approved by voters in November 2016 that increased the city's hotel occupancy tax to provide more money for city services.

"These once-part-time positions are now full time, providing a much-needed added layer of presence on the beach, which is where we saw the decrease in the crimes," the department said in a statement.

However, burglaries continued to climb last year, reaching 90. Laguna Beach had 82 burglary reports in 2016 and 59 in 2015, data show.

Police officials attributed the increase to residents leaving the doors to their homes unlocked and their garage doors open.

"This is a reminder that we can prevent a majority of property crime by taking the time to properly secure our homes," Chief Laura Farinella said in a statement.

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