Burbank’s overall crime rate dips in 2019, despite spike in property crimes

Burbank's overall crime rate went on a downward trend in 2019, according to year-end crime statistics from the police department.
Burbank’s overall crime rate went on a downward trend in 2019, according to year-end crime statistics from the police department.
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

While the overall crime rate in Burbank went on a slight downward trend last year for the second year in a row, the city did see a small uptick in the number of property offenses.

Year-end statistics from the Burbank Police Department showed that the total number of Part I offenses, which are a combination of certain property and violent crimes, dropped last year from 2,852 cases in 2018 to 2,806 — a 1.6% decrease.

Property crimes — burglary, theft and auto theft — rose by about 6.2% last year while violent crimes — murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults — saw a decline of roughly 11.9%.

Auto thefts saw the most significant increase among property crimes, going from 214 in 2018 to 382 in 2019 — rising by about 78.5%. Burglaries saw an 8.3% increase going from 276 cases to 299.

Although thefts were the most reported type of crime in the city, it saw a 1.3% decrease last year, going from 2,135 cases to 2,107.

Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse said during a meeting of the Burbank Police Commission last month that the rise in property crimes can be partially attributed to the holiday shopping season, with a rise in retail and auto thefts.

“We still have people … that don’t lock their cars in parking lots and going from one store to another and dump their goodies into their car,” he said. “Whether it’s locked or not, people still have a way of getting in and taking those items.”

While violent crimes in the city saw decreases across the board, rapes saw the most significant decline, by around 38.9%, going from 18 reported cases in 2018 to 11 last year. Robberies saw a 28% drop, from 75 incidents to 54.

Aggravated assaults in the city went from 134 incidents in 2018 to 123 last year, a drop of about 8.2%.

While no murders were reported in the city in 2018, last year saw Burbank’s only murder in March when a 21-year-old man named Christian Guevara was shot during a house party in the 4000 block of West Clark Avenue. Two men have since been charged for their suspected involvement in the shooting, and the case has yet to go to trial.

“If we were to have one type of crime over another, it’s much preferable to have property crime over crime against another person,” LaChasse said.

He added that Burbank saw a 12% reduction last year in Part II offenses — which include lesser crimes such as disorderly conduct, simple assault and drug-related incidents — as well as a 16% drop in traffic collisions.

However, LaChasse said the city reported a 3% increase in vehicle collisions where a pedestrian was hit.

Both pedestrians and motorists need to be more defensive and aware of their surroundings, he said.

“We need to get in our minds that we need to practice situational awareness,” he said. “Sometimes you just can’t multitask when you’re crossing a major street with a lot of traffic.”

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