Advertisement
Share

L.A. Crime Rate Falls 10% During First Half of 1998

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Continuing a five-year trend, serious crime reported in cities across the nation fell during the first half of 1998, with Los Angeles showing a 10% decline, according to statistics released by the FBI on Sunday.

In Los Angeles County, Burbank, Inglewood, Long Beach and Torrance had more than 10% drops in serious crime compared with figures from the first half of 1997. Santa Clarita experienced the only increase, according to the statistics, with a 6.8% rise.

Serious crime in Orange County’s eight largest cities also continued to drop.

The largest drop came in violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, which dropped 11%. Property crime, including burglary, larceny and theft and vehicle theft, dropped 5% in the same period in the county.

Advertisement

Overall, crime fell 6%. Still, some cities defied the trend. In Fullerton, for instance, violent crime increased by 15%. In Huntington Beach, violent crime increased by 12%, although there were no murders. The largest drop in violent crime occurred in Anaheim, where it fell 33%.

Nationwide, the statistics indicate a 5% decline overall, with a 7% drop in violent crime. Taken individually, robbery fell 11%, murder 8%, and aggravated assault and forcible rape 5%.

Geographically, serious crime fell most in the Northeast, with the West following in second place.

In Los Anteles County, the murder rate fluctuated dramatically. Although Inglewood saw the most dramatic fall in serious crime, it had 17 murders, compared to two in the same six months last year. El Monte, Burbank and Lancaster also experienced an increase in murders. Los Angeles, on the other hand, had a 29% decrease, with 193 homicides during the first part of this year; Pomona dropped from 23 to eight.

Elsewhere in the state, San Diego showed a more than 50% drop in murder, while it and San Francisco showed moderate drops in overall serious crime. San Jose and Santa Ana had slight increases in such crime, the statistics show.

Based on differences in methodology, the FBI’s statistics differ from crime figures released by the state attorney general’s office in September, which showed Pasadena having the largest drop in crime and El Monte and Pomona having significant increases.

A college town in suburban Buffalo and Simi Valley pushed Thousand Oaks from the top of the nation’s list of safe large cities for the first half of 1998, according to an analysis of the statistics.

Boasting a white-collar affluence similar to the two eastern Ventura County communities, Amherst Town, N.Y., was the nation’s most crime-free urban area with a population of at least 100,000, FBI and census figures show.

Advertisement

The rankings are based on a ratio of city population to crime reported in seven categories--murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and auto theft.

Reported offenses were off 18.3% in Amherst Town and 3.3% in Simi Valley. But they were up 4.4% in Thousand Oaks, largely because of about 40 heists by a serial burglar caught in June, officials said.

The big-city crime report, released twice a year, fuels the good-natured competition between Simi and Thousand Oaks. Both communities use the rankings to lure big companies, and real estate agents banner the results of sales brochures.

“It’s a friendly rivalry, I guess. Every time we meet at a function we rub it in a little,” said Simi Valley Mayor Bill Davis. “We don’t expect to be No. 1 every year, or No. 2. But, by golly, we’d better stay in the first three.”

Advertisement

Thousand Oaks was the safest large city in the country in 1997, and either Thousand Oaks or Simi has ranked first for seven of the last 10 years. Amherst Town was first the other three years.


Advertisement