Crime in Burbank took a downturn in 2018, according to police data

The overall crime rate in Burbank took a dip for the first time in three years, according to data provided by the police department.
(Raul Roa / Burbank Leader)

Burbank’s crime rate went on the decline during last year for the first time in three years — down by about 10.79%.

Year-end crime statistics from the Burbank Police Department showed that the number of property and violent crimes in the city dropped from 3,197 instances in 2017 to 2,852 last year.

Sgt. Derek Green, a spokesman for the police department, described the drop as a “nice refreshing change.” While no one factor can be attributed to the lower crime rate, he said the increase in department personnel over the last month certainly helped.

“We’ve been finally able to increase our staffing … especially in patrol, meaning more officers out in the city,” he said. “But we do have a ways to go before we’re fully staffed.”

Currently, the department has 149 sworn officers but is authorized to have as many as 160.

While the crime rate is down, the calls for service are still consistent with the previous year, according to Green. He said it may mean more people are calling in suspicious activity they see, thereby deterring a crime from actually occurring.

“It’s important to report suspicious activity to police, and we always encourage people to contact us,” he said. “That extra set of eyes is helpful.”

The statistics divide criminal activity into two categories — property crime and violent crime.

Property crimes saw the larger drop, by 10.77%, going from 2,942 reported cases in 2017 to 2,625 last year.

Property crimes are split into three subcategories by the department — burglary, theft and auto theft.

Burglaries saw the largest reduction out of both property and violent crimes, going from 353 reported incidents to 276, a 21.81% drop.

Green said there has been a noticeable increase in residents installing home-security cameras and more frequent communication about crimes on social media websites such as Nextdoor and Facebook, which has played a part in reducing the burglary rate.

“With this heightened level of awareness online … technology has allowed us to capture people committing these crimes, and it helps us solve these cases much quicker,” he said.

Thefts were the most reported crime in Burbank and saw an 8.91% drop, going from 2,344 reported incidents to 2,135. Auto thefts reduced by 12.65%, going from 245 to 215.

A significant portion of thefts in the city are the result of unlocked vehicles being burglarized and shoplifting, according to Green.

Violent crimes dropped by 10.27%, going from 253 reported incidents in 2017 to 227 in 2018. Violent crimes are comprised of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault was the most reported violent crime and saw the smallest drop, going from 147 incidents in 2017 to 138 incidents in 2018, a change of 8.84%.

“We know a lot of these types of cases of physical violence require or necessitate an intervention, whether there’s a drug, alcohol or mental-health element,” Green said. “We work with our [mental health evaluation team] to try and mitigate these incidents.”

Robberies saw the biggest decrease of violent crimes, with a 12.79% drop, going from 86 reported incidents to 75.

Rapes declined by 10%, going from 20 incidents reported in 2017 to 18 last year.

No homicides have occurred in Burbank since 2015, when a woman was stabbed to death in a Richard Street home.

Twitter: @Andy_Truc