L.B. Crime Rate Rises Slightly

Times Staff Writer

Despite hefty reductions in the number of reported homicides and robberies, the overall reported crime rate in Long Beach in 1984 edged up slightly over the previous year, city officials have announced.

The number of crimes reported in the city during 1984 increased 1.7% compared to 1983, pushed upward by sharp jumps in reported auto burglaries and bicycle thefts.

But the homicide rate plummeted by 32.3%, from 65 deaths in 1983 to 44 this year, while reported robbery dropped off by 16.4%, down to 2,595 from 3,106 in 1983. Assaults rose 7.3%, with 1,369 incidents in 1984 compared to 1,275 the year before. Rapes, however, fell by 1.6%, down from 245 in 1983 to 241 in 1984.

Signal Hill Assaults More Than Double

Reported crimes in Signal Hill, which has about 7,000 residents, increased 16%, from 657 to 762, according to Police Department statistics.

The biggest jump in reported crimes in Signal Hill involved assaults, which increased 134%, from 44 to 103. Theft increased nearly 20%, from 269 to 322. The only significant drop was in the number of auto thefts, which fell from 81 in 1983 to 69 in 1984.

Chief Michael McCrary of the Signal Hill Police Department attributed the rise in assaults to increased reporting of that crime.

"In the past we didn't document an assault if the victim didn't want to report it," McCrary said. "Now we have to document all calls that come in on any disturbance or fight."

In Long Beach, which has a population of about 380,000, Deputy Police Chief William Ellis said police officials "are pleased, overall, with their department's ability to maintain crime at a steady level."

However, Ellis said police are worried about the sharp rise in auto burglaries, which jumped 11.5%, up from 4,667 in 1983 to 5,207 in 1984.

"That's a concern to us," Ellis said. "As we see an increase in the number of expensive vehicles in the city, we're seeing an upturn in the amount of equipment that is stolen."

Those burglaries generally involve the theft of car stereos or personal belongings left in an unattended vehicle, he said. But while auto burglaries rose, thefts of vehicles dropped slightly, down 1% from 4,210 in 1983 to 4,164 in 1984.

However, commercial burglary dropped by 3.1%, down from 1,501 in 1983 to 1,454 in 1984, and residential burglaries increased only slightly, with 6,443 reported burglaries in 1984 compared to 6,351 the year before, a 1.4% rise.

Reported bicycle thefts rose 14.5%, from 1,939 in 1983 to 2,222 in 1984.

Ellis said bicycle thefts have been a bothersome problem for police, accounting for more than $400,000 in stolen property in 1984. He said many of the thefts could have been prevented if riders had locked their bicycles or made sure an identification number was etched on the frame and recorded by police, Ellis said.

Police see the increases in auto and home burglaries, bicycle thefts and other crimes involving the loss of property as a spinoff of proliferating illegal drug trade in the city, Ellis said. Drug users often resort to crime as a way of obtaining cash to purchase narcotics, Ellis said.

"A large percentage of the property crimes and some of the crimes against people are a direct result of narcotics trafficking," he said.

Because of that, the department will during the coming year put an "increased emphasis" on the investigation of narcotics crimes, which Ellis called "a very serious problem." Any increases in manpower for the department's narcotics squad, however, will wait until after the city budget is approved in June, Ellis said.

The department has increased the use of anti-truancy patrols, reasoning that many daytime burglaries and other crimes are committed by school-age children.

Grand theft, which involves the theft of items with a value of more than $400, remained stable. Petty theft, meanwhile, dropped by 2.7%, from 4,346 in 1983 to 4,226 in 1984.

Police were particularly pleased by the sharp reduction in robberies, which Ellis attributed to increased efforts by uniformed officers to "maintain a high-visibility presence" in areas traditionally troubled by street crime.

Business Watch Cited

That effort was most effective during the Summer Olympics, when large numbers of officers were deployed around the four event sites in Long Beach.

The reduction in commercial burglaries, meanwhile, may have come in part because businesses are increasingly participating in the department's Business Watch program, Ellis said. That program, which began in 1983 and has 668 participating businesses, encourages firms to maintain contact with neighboring businesses and to take security precautions such as installing better locks and limiting entry routes for thieves.

Ellis said the nearly one-third drop in homicides was significant, but could not be directly attributed to any work done by the police.

"Murder is a difficult crime for police to have any marked impact on," he said. "Generally, it's a crime of passion involving people who know each other. You can't enforce against it."

Of the city's nine council districts, all but two showed increases in crime.

The largest percentage increase in crime was reported in Councilwoman Eunice Sato's 7th District. Reported crime jumped 6.2% in Sato's west Long Beach district, a region straddling the Los Angeles River and dotted with single-family houses and small businesses.

Troubled by Sharp Rise

That increase was caused mostly by sharp jumps in the number of home and auto burglaries, which rose 10% and 15.3%, respectively.

Sato was particularly troubled by the dramatic increase in home burglaries, which came despite an ongoing Neighborhood Watch program in the area.

"The Neighborhood Watch on the west side is about 7, 8 years old," Sato said. "Like everything else, maybe some apathy has set in. It could be that people just aren't being as attentive as they should. I'm disappointed, but if those are the facts, we just have to get on it."

The largest number of crimes, however, were reported in Councilman Marc Wilder's downtown 1st District. In 1984, 9,286 incidents were reported, a 4.2% increase over the 8,908 incidents reported in 1983. In comparison, Sato's district had 4,087 reported crimes in all of 1984.

The largest percentage drop in overall crime came in Councilman Warren Harwood's District 9, which covers the city's northern panhandle. Reported crime dropped 6.2%, down from 4,724 in 1983 to 4,429 in 1984. That drop was mostly due to reductions in residential and commercial burglaries, which fell 7.3% and 15%, respectively.

Sobering Observation

Harwood said he was "obviously pleased" by the decline in crime, but played down the statistical report.

"The problem with statistics is that even though we might be better than the year before, there's still crimes being committed," he said.

Harwood said he hoped crime in his area would decline even more with the construction of a police substation in Scherer Park, at Del Amo Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue. The substation, which will serve as the department's northern outpost, is scheduled to be completed in June.

1983-84 Long Beach Crime Statistics

DISTRICT 1 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 16 9 -43.7 Manslaughter 0 0 0.0 Rape 51 56 +9.8 Robbery 772 684 +11.3 Assault 322 335 +4.0 Residential Burglary 886 1,135 +28.1 Commercial Burglary 358 371 +3.6 Auto Burglary 896 1,163 +29.7 Grand Theft 636 615 -3.3 Petty Theft 1,467 1,404 -4.2 Bicycle Theft 260 382 +46.9 Auto Theft 757 806 +6.4 Arson 29 29 0.0 Total 8,908 9,286 +4.2

DISTRICT 2 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 7 6 -14.2 Manslaughter 0 0 0.0 Rape 33 22 -33.3 Robbery 332 232 -30.1 Assault 119 110 -7.5 Residential Burglary 899 900 +0.1 Commercial Burglary 91 109 +19.7 Auto Burglary 640 718 +12.1 Grand Theft 186 156 -16.1 Petty Theft 347 338 -2.5 Bicycle Theft 280 269 -3.9 Auto Theft 396 409 +3.2 Arson 16 14 -12.5 Total 4,545 4,461 -1.8

DISTRICT 3 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 3 0 -100.0 Manslaughter 0 0 0.0 Rape 14 22 +57.1 Robbery 108 109 +0.9 Assault 48 53 +10.4 Residential Burglary 668 579 -13.3 Commercial Burglary 122 133 +9.0 Auto Burglary 754 690 -8.4 Grand Theft 212 297 +40.0 Petty Theft 340 337 -0.8 Bicycle Theft 312 334 +7.0 Auto Theft 493 480 -2.6 Arson 10 11 +10.0 Total 3,933 4,009 +1.9

DISTRICT 4 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 1 0 -100.0 Manslaughter 0 0 0.0 Rape 13 9 -30.7 Robbery 119 87 -26.8 Assault 46 50 +8.6 Residential Burglary 407 417 +2.4 Commercial Burglary 106 93 -12.2 Auto Burglary 349 408 +16.9 Grand Theft 133 120 -9.7 Petty Theft 327 372 +13.7 Bicycle Theft 192 208 +8.3 Auto Theft 295 270 -8.4 Arson 3 6 +100.0 Total 2,837 2,912 +2.6

DISTRICT 5 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 5 2 -60.0 Manslaughter 0 0 0.0 Rape 3 4 +33.3 Robbery 54 49 -9.2 Assault 48 31 -35.4 Residential Burglary 343 258 -24.7 Commercial Burglary 73 69 -5.4 Auto Burglary 272 287 +5.5 Grand Theft 109 90 -17.4 Petty Theft 190 170 -10.5 Bicycle Theft 142 131 -7.7 Auto Theft 252 246 -2.3 Arson 8 5 -37.5 Total 2,109 2,138 +1.3

DISTRICT 6 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 17 11 -35.2 Manslaughter 0 0 0.0 Rape 61 63 +3.2 Robbery 776 652 -15.9 Assault 319 364 +14.1 Residential Burglary 959 1,081 +12.7 Commercial Burglary 240 236 -1.6 Auto Burglary 582 668 +14.7 Grand Theft 340 341 +0.2 Petty Theft 438 349 -20.3 Bicycle Theft 203 283 +39.5 Auto Theft 613 633 +3.2 Arson 23 41 +78.2 Total 6,497 6,712 +3.3

DISTRICT 7 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 1 6 +500.0 Manslaughter 0 0 0.0 Rape 22 23 +4.5 Robbery 366 265 -27.5 Assault 105 112 +6.6 Residential Burglary 837 921 +10.0 Commercial Burglary 203 151 -25.6 Auto Burglary 490 565 +15.3 Grand Theft 172 199 +15.6 Petty Theft 290 296 +2.0 Bicycle Theft 143 194 +35.6 Auto Theft 450 436 -3.1 Arson 15 17 +13.3 Total 3,845 4,087 +6.2

DISTRICT 8 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 6 5 -16.6 Manslaughter 0 0 0.0 Rape 19 13 +31.5 Robbery 282 235 +16.6 Assault 93 106 +13.9 Residential Burglary 627 480 -23.4 Commercial Burglary 135 145 +7.4 Auto Burglary 344 339 -1.4 Grand Theft 208 187 -10.0 Petty Theft 505 539 +6.7 Bicycle Theft 157 198 +26.1 Auto Theft 413 359 -13.0 Arson 10 15 +50.0 Total 4,043 4,070 +0.6

DISTRICT 9 Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 8 4 -50.0 Manslaughter 0 1 +100.0 Rape 20 22 +10.0 Robbery 290 278 -4.1 Assault 161 187 +16.1 Residential Burglary 725 672 -7.3 Commercial Burglary 173 147 -15.0 Auto Burglary 339 362 +6.7 Grand Theft 200 187 -6.5 Petty Theft 429 410 -4.4 Bicycle Theft 249 222 -10.8 Auto Theft 538 520 -3.3 Arson 24 24 0.0 Total 4,724 4,429 -6.2

CITYWIDE TOTALS Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 65 44 -32.3 Manslaughter 0 1 +100.0 Rape 245 241 -1.6 Robbery 3,106 2,595 -16.4 Assault 1,275 1,369 +7.3 Residential Burglary 6,351 6,443 +1.4 Commercial Burglary 1,501 1,454 -3.1 Auto Burglary 4,667 5,207 +11.5 Grand Theft 2,204 2,210 +0.2 Petty Theft 4,346 4,226 -2.7 Bicycle Theft 1,939 2,222 +14.5 Auto Theft 4,210 4,164 -1.0 Arson 138 164 +18.8 Total 42,374 43,127 +1.7

Signal Hill Crime Statistics Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 2 0 -100.0 Rape 7 5 -28.6 Robbery 31 32 +3.2 Assault 44 103 +134.1 Burglary 223 231 +3.6 Theft 269 322 +19.7 Auto Theft 81 69 -14.8 Arson N/A N/A N/A Total 657 762 +16.0

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