Laguna Beach : Police Report 25% Rise in Major Crimes for '85

A near-tripling in the number of rapes and significant increases in burglary and larceny in 1985 helped give the city its first rise in major crimes in four years.

Reported major crimes increased by 25% last year, reversing a three-year trend of declining crime incidents, according to Police Chief Neil Purcell.

Rapes increased from four in 1984 to 11 last year, while larceny incidents jumped 31%, from 490 to 644.

Burglary reports rose almost 18%, and aggravated assault increased by about 26%, a Police Department report said.

Purcell said he was "not really disappointed" with last year's crime statistics because the actual numbers of crimes are still low.

He also said that crime was increasing throughout the south county.

"San Clemente had a similar increase, Newport Beach went up by 12%, Irvine by about 6%," Purcell said. "Compared to other cities in the county, I think we're holding our own. For the amount of activity generated in this city and the size of the force, I don't foresee a bleak picture."

Purcell noted that arrests were also up--by 21%--and arrests on narcotics charges, which the chief said is Laguna Beach's worst crime problem, rose by 26%. "Narcotics is at the root of most of the evil, and transients also commit a lot of these crimes," Purcell said.

Good weather throughout much of last year and the ensuing influx of tourists contributed to the crime increase, Purcell said, as did the growing "youthful element" that is moving into Orange County.

Purcell said he will ask the City Council to beef up the police force by including three more officers in next year's budget.

"I think the pendulum is starting to swing the other way. It wouldn't surprise me if next year there is another increase."

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