Year-end crime statistics from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station show 97 residential burglaries occurred in La Cañada Flintridge in 2019 — an increase of 54% over the previous year’s figures — and one resident came before the City Council Tuesday demanding a response.
Deborah Johannes claimed city officials were not being transparent enough in relaying crime statistics and reports to the public. The longtime resident criticized the city for not broadcasting meetings following a Spectrum cable issue.
“City residents have not been able to watch meetings,” she said of a 10-month interruption in the cable coverage. “Had they been able to do so, they may have learned of the growing crimes. An increase like that demands we have a voice in increasing our law enforcement representation.”
The city contracts for services from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at the cost of more than $3 million annually, providing another $185,000 for additional patrols to be used at the CV station captain’s discretion and $187,900 for a La Cañada Unified school resource officer.
Johannes asked to be placed on a future agenda, advising the city to hire a crime analyst and conduct an outside forensic audit of the last 10 years of crime statistics.
Council members asked her to submit a report of her findings for their review and assured her they receive public updates on crime rates each month directly from station officials.
“We’re not discounting the fact that this year was a bad year for burglaries,” said Mayor Pro Tem Greg Brown. “But we have been absolutely transparent every month.”
The sheriff’s figures are a compilation of reports made throughout 2019 that have yet to be independently verified, according to Crescenta Valley Station Lt. David Holwager. Some incidents, after review, may be recategorized or pulled from the list, he said.
Still, they provide a snapshot of criminal activity in town and a point of reflection for city officials and residents to use as they consider taking precautions to prevent crimes in the year ahead.
For example, while residential burglaries increased from 63 in 2018, the number of commercial and other structural burglaries decreased, from 23 the year before to 17 in 2019.
The station logged 186 larceny incidents in La Cañada Flintridge last year, 27% fewer than the 224 that occurred in 2018. Larceny includes grand and petty theft, vehicle burglaries, shoplifting and incidents of identity theft that result in loss to victims.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Crescenta Valley Station Capt. Todd Deeds said high burglary rates have been a systemic problem in affluent communities across the county, and agencies are partnering to bust crews linked to incidents in multiple cities.
“Major Crimes [Bureau] has taken over a number of those cases. They know how to target these burglary crews, and they go after them aggressively,” Deeds said. “I wish these numbers were lower, but we’re going to fight and do a good job and hopefully bring those numbers down in 2020.”