Newport Beach crime rate at a 42-year low

NEWPORT BEACH – Some folks may think of the good old days as safer, but crime rates are at the lowest point here in more than four decades, data released Friday show.

Newport Beach police released statistics analyzing crimes committed per thousand residents of Newport Beach dating to 1969.

"If you were to ask people if they felt safer today or 30 or 40 years ago, most would say they felt safer back then," said Police Chief Jay Johnson. "However, the statistical facts show that our community is safer now than most people under 50 years old have ever experienced."

In 2010, the rate of total Part One crimes, those accounting for violent and property crimes per 1,000 residents was 26.65, with the population at 86,738. The second-lowest year was 2009, followed by 2008, showing a steady decrease in criminal activity.

Both violent crimes and property crimes were at respective lows not seen since the 1960s.

The department chose the year 1969 because methods of tracking crime prior to that year were different from the methods currently used.

"It's not apples to apples at that point," Johnson said. "You start to get into accuracy issues."

In 1969, the city had 47,678 residents.

The years 1991 and 1992 saw the most violent crimes with 321 and 346 violent crimes, respectively.

In 2010, Newport logged 117 violent crimes, with four incidents of rape, 42 robberies and 71 aggravated assaults.

This year through the end of June has seen also seen a decrease in crime, with a 2% drop so far, Johnson said.

The crime numbers were those reported to the FBI by the Newport Beach Police Department.

The types of crime analyzed were Part One crimes, which include violent crimes like murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, as well as property crimes such as burglary, theft, grand theft auto and arson.

Some factors that affect the level of crime are things that police can control, including policing methodology, while other factors like weather and population age contribute to decreases in crime without police help.

Weather can play a part with a sunny day drawing more people — and subsequently more crime — to beaches. Rainy days always see a spike in auto thefts, although reasons behind the increase are unclear.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the tremendous efforts by our police officers, our city government and our community have made a huge impact on reducing crime," Johnson said.

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