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Violent crime fell 6.9% in Huntington Beach in 2018, but rape and robbery reports rose

Violent crime fell 6.9% in Huntington Beach in 2018, but rape and robbery reports rose
Violent crime in Huntington Beach decreased by 6.9% in 2018 compared with the previous year, though reports of rapes and robberies increased, according to data collected by the Police Department. (File Photo)

Reports of violent crime in Huntington Beach dropped by 6.9% in 2018 compared with the previous year, but rapes and robberies both increased more than 10%, according to data presented to the City Council on Monday.

The Police Department recorded 429 violent crimes in 2018, 32 fewer than the previous year.

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Property crimes declined from 4,315 in 2017 to 4,017 in 2018.

Overall crime fell by 6.9%, the department said.

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Police Chief Robert Handy told the council he’s pleased with the overall figures and wants to see crime go down even further this year.

However, according to data collected by Julie Romano, the Police Department’s crime analyst, there were 83 reported cases of rape in 2018 — eight, or 10.7%, more than the previous year — and 106 robberies, an increase of 11 cases, or 11.6%.

Handy attributed the increase in rape cases to the U.S. Department of Justice’s updated definition of rape, which encompasses male and female victims and offenders and expands the types of non-consenting acts understood to be rape.

Police recorded 239 aggravated assaults in 2018, 50 fewer than the previous year.

Residential burglaries decreased by 45 cases.

Crimes associated with the growing local homeless population are the Police Department’s biggest hurdle, Handy said.

Romano noted a surge in storage facility burglaries because, she said, thieves can target multiple units at once without being seen, and many facilities lack modern security to prevent such incidents.

Police also recorded a 20% increase in misdemeanor, drug and impaired-driving arrests. Felony arrests decreased 1%.

Drug arrests alone increased 120% between 2014 and 2018, Romano said.

Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize told Handy that, based on social media descriptions, there appears to be more petty crime, like thefts from cars that are left unlocked.

Handy agreed and said lower-level crime is higher and that a lot of it isn’t reported.

“We monitor sites and see activity, but every single night in the city there are people who are stealing unsecured property” from garages and vehicles, he said.

Mayor Erik Peterson thanked the department and said, “We like hearing reports on this.”

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