State: Violent crime continues to fall

The violent- and property-crime rates in Newport-Mesa dropped between 2008 and 2009, mirroring a statewide trend of fewer offenses being reported, state officials announced Friday.

In California, there were fewer homicides, robberies, car thefts and arsons than in the last three years, according to the state Justice Department. Orange County also followed the state's numbers, with a 3.6% drop in violent crimes, 10.5% fewer property crimes and a 3.7% drop in larcenies and thefts, the department reported.

While the statewide numbers have continued to drop, on the local level the statistics show just how the recession, among other things, has had an effect on crime.

Newport Beach recorded 91 violent crimes in 2007 — which include homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults — according to statistics from its police department. The total increased the next year before dropping back again in 2009 to 91 violent crimes.

There were 38 fewer thefts in Newport Beach last year than in 2008, but still more than in the two previous years. The only continual decrease in the city came in property thefts overall, with nearly 200 fewer burglaries, car thefts and grand thefts than in 2006. The 1,668 property crimes in 2009 has stayed virtually the same since 2007.

In Costa Mesa the case is mostly similar. Violent crimes were down in 2009, but that was compared with 2008, which had a significant spike in violence. There was only one murder in Costa Mesa in 2009 and one in 2008, which is about average. There have been two homicides in Costa Mesa so far this year.

Last year, police saw a 14.7% drop in aggravated assaults for Costa Mesa, a 4.1% drop in property crimes but a 3.1% increase in larcenies and thefts, attributed mostly to an increase in petty thefts (less than $400).

Crime statewide peaked in 1992. Since then, violent and property crimes have been cut by more than 50% and larceny and thefts have dropped 48.5%.

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