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Laguna Beach crime rate reached record low in 2018, police say

Laguna Beach crime rate reached record low in 2018, police say
Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella salutes during the national anthem at a 2018 remembrance ceremony for fallen officers. (File Photo)

Laguna Beach achieved a record low crime rate in 2018, according to a report this week from the city’s Police Department.

Overall crime dropped 14% compared with 2017, according to the report, released Tuesday.

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Property crimes — which include burglary, larceny, arson and auto theft — fell 19%.

“The men and women of the Laguna Beach Police Department … are to be commended for their diligent efforts in identifying crime and nuisance issues and working to address them though creative strategies and community engagement,” Police Chief Laura Farinella said in a statement.

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The number of violent crimes in 2018 — including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault — was 190, the same as the previous year.

The crimes with the most significant decreases last year were burglaries, thefts and robberies.

Reports of burglaries fell by more than half — from 90 in 2017 to 42 last year — after two years of increases.

Larceny cases — thefts not including cars — fell from 358 in 2017 to 316.

Robberies dropped to six last year from 13 in 2017, the Police Department said.

Reports of auto theft dropped from 30 in 2017 to 25 last year.

The only property crime that posted an increase was arson, which went from one case in 2017 to three in 2018, the department said.

There were five reported sexual assaults in 2018, compared with seven the year before. The number of aggravated assaults — which include domestic violence and bar fights — was 21 in both 2017 and ’18.

There has not been a reported homicide in Laguna Beach since 2012.

The only type of violent crime that increased last year was simple assault, with 158 cases, nine more than in 2017.

Police attributed the overall reduction in property crimes to beat officers who focused on crime prevention education in areas that have been targeted in recent years, urging residents to keep their doors locked and garages closed.

A police crime statistics report in December credited the decrease in thefts to the presence of beach patrol officers, who mostly enforce rules about smoking, alcohol and littering at Main Beach and Heisler Park.

Capt. Jason Kravetz said at the time that police arrested a few “burglary crews,” which also helped account for the decrease in property crimes.

The City Council voted unanimously Dec. 11 to allocate $155,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year to increase beach patrol hours and fund a stronger police presence at Main Beach and Heisler Park, among other security measures.

In July, Laguna police began staffing an information booth on weekends at Main Beach Park to address public safety issues.

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