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Reported Crimes in L.A. Decrease Slightly : .85% Decline Posted in 1985 but Murder, Assault, Robbery, Arson Rise

Times Staff Writer

A 7% decline in reported burglaries paced a .85% overall drop in crime in Los Angeles in 1985, but the city’s murder, assault, robbery and arson figures all showed increases, an FBI report released this week shows.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, an annual study compiling reports from more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, also noted that while reported crime decreased in Los Angeles, it was up 4% nationwide--the first rise after three years of steady decline.

Last year there were 777 murders in Los Angeles, exceeding by 18, or 2.4%, 1984’s total of 759. Aggravated assaults were up 3.7% over the previous year to 21,799, while robberies jumped 2.3% from 27,323 in 1984 to 27,938 in 1985. Arson figures climbed 4.3% to 5,338 in 1985, and motor vehicle thefts climbed 6.5% to 51,641 from 48,507 the year before.

Drop in Reported Rapes

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In addition to the sizable decline in burglaries--from 68,696 in 1984 to 63,963 in 1985--the report showed a slight drop in the number of reported rapes, from 2,347 in 1984 to 2,318 last year, and a 2% decrease in reported thefts, from 128,538 in 1984 to 125,968 in 1985.

“The figures are accurate, and though it’s not a large reduction, the trend is certainly in the right direction,” Cmdr. William Booth, Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, said Friday.

He attributed the decline in burglaries to a more “aware and alert citizenry” that is working more closely with police through such programs as Neighborhood Watch to keep from becoming targets of crime.

“I think we’re seeing something else,” Booth said. “In California, more than ever before, there are more people in prison. With more of the criminals in prison, there’s less of an opportunity for them to keep committing these crimes.”

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No Guess on Unreported Crimes

The report only measures crimes reported to police, “and one can only estimate the number of crimes that go unreported,” Booth admitted. But, he said, “we do believe that here in Los Angeles, people are programmed to report violent crimes committed against them.”

Despite the overall drop in crime, Los Angeles still ranks second only to New York in the number of annual murders, rapes, robberies, burglaries, arsons and thefts. The city ranks third behind New York and Chicago in aggravated assaults.

Regionally, the report showed crime up 5% in the West, 8% in the South and 2% in the Northeast, with no change in the Midwest.

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