La Cañada property crimes on the rise

La Cañada Flintridge has seen a nearly 40% increase in burglaries compared to last year, and city officials believe statewide changes to the justice system are to blame.

On Monday, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Silversparre reported 17 burglaries in November, bringing the 2012 tally to 116. In the first 11 months of 2011 the city saw 84 burglaries, while there were 77 burglaries in the first 11 months of 2010.

Silversparre told the City Council that overall felonies are down in La Cañada Flintridge, with 300 in the first 11 months of 2012 compared to 319 at this time in both 2011 and 2010.

City Manager Mark Alexander said the city is concerned that “realignment,” a plan put in motion by Gov. Jerry Brown to spring nonviolent parolees early and release some felony convicts to county jails in order to ease overcrowding in state prisons, is behind the spike in property crimes.

Officials in several cities that contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for police services believe realignment is a problem, he added.

“There’s a consensus among city managers in the San Gabriel Valley and South Bay that this increase in property crimes around L.A. County dates to when early release went into effect,” Alexander said. He said La Cañada and other contract cities would push the sheriff’s department to look at the issue.

“Logic would dictate that when state prison prisoners are shuffled to jails, the jails have to make room,” he said. “They’re releasing nonviolent offenders, which generally tend to be your drug users that are going out committing property crimes to fund their drug use.”

Silversparre said available statistics don’t prove that offenders who were released early are driving the numbers.

“It is not known if these people were released under that program,” he said. “The stats are not available to say that this is specifically from the [realignment] program.”

La Cañada is home to four early-release parolees, but none are suspects in the crimes committed in the city, said Silversparre.

Silversparre said that of the department’s 12 arrests for burglaries thus far this year, at least one suspect was on parole. It is not clear, Silversparre said, whether that suspect was part of the early-release program.

The busiest month for burglaries in La Cañada so far this year was May, with 19. Realignment began in October 2011.

Silversparre said that the sheriff’s department is tracking statistics countywide to see if there is a correlation between realignment and increased property crimes.

Mayor Steve Del Guercio said that as all of the known suspects in this year’s burglaries have come from outside La Cañada, deputies are relying on residents to call in suspicious or unusual activity.

“No doubt we’re under attack from outside influences, we can look at the data,” he said. “The sheriff’s department wants you to call [and] let them figure it out.”


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