Ojai city, Valley crimes rise
by Lenny Roberts
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department has released its semi-annual
list of reported crimes within the Ojai city limits, and both
misdemeanor and property crimes show a substantial increase.
Authorities caution, however, that increases or decreases in
any crime category in small communities often reflect unrealistic
changes in the overall crime rate.
In Part I crimes, which are violent and property offenses, there
were no homicides during the first half of this year, but there
was one reported rape and reported robberies tripled from one
to three. Added to the five aggravated assaults that were reported,
the total number of violent crimes rose from six to nine.
Part I property crimes showed a 36.7 percent increase from the
73 reported from January 1 to June 30, 2001 to 99 for the same
time period this year. The increases were in petty thefts, which
rose from 34 to 58; grand thefts, which doubled from nine to
18; and vehicle burglaries, up five from the two reported in
2001. While reported incidents of arson remained at one, commercial
burglaries fell from 12 to six; residential burglaries slipped
from 10 to eight; and auto thefts dropped from five to one.
The odds of being a victim of Part I crimes in the city limits
rose from 10.03 per 1,000 residents in the first half of 2001
to 13.63 through June 30 of this year, based on Ojai's reported
population of 7,925 compared with 7,875 last year.
Reported Part II, or non-violent crimes, increased by eight from
299 to 307 for a 2.7 percent increase, which translates to a
2 percent jump in the crimes-per-thousand-population rate. However,
30 of the 37 increased crimes reported in both Part I and Part
II categories were for nonviolent traffic arrests and misdemeanor
alcohol-related offenses. Narcotics violations reported in the
city jumped from 49 to 55, and fraud offenses, on the rise in
most parts of the country, rose from nine to 13.
Decreases of note were simple assaults, from 30 to 23; arrests
for driving under the influence, down 17 from the 27 in 2001;
and misdemeanor vandalism, from 41 to 36.
Warrant arrests increased from 28 to 31, and miscellaneous felonies
doubled to six. Miscellaneous misdemeanors showed a slight decline
from 34 to 32, but felony sex offenses rose from two to three.
Possessions of stolen property remained at one, and weapons violations
slipped from three to one. As was the case for the first six
months of 2001, there were no arrests for gambling, felony vandalism,
prostitution or bomb-related activities.
Reported cases of domestic violence decreased from 27 in the
last reporting period to 25 this year, and miscellaneous incident
reports, runaways, traffic collisions and vehicle tows and impounds
all showed moderate decreases.
Outside the city ...
According to statistics released by the Ventura County Sheriff's
Department this week, violent and property crimes reported in
the unincorporated areas of the Ojai Valley for the first half
of this year showed a moderate 6.9 percent increase.
Unincorporated areas of the Ojai Valley are those patrolled by
deputies from the Ojai substation, and include Oak View, Meiners
Oaks, Upper Ojai, Casitas Springs and Ventura Avenue south to
the Ventura city limit.
Violent crimes, including rape, robbery and aggravated assault
remained at 15 during both Jan. 1 to June 30 periods, but property
crimes, which took a 19.8 percent nosedive last year, did a reversal
for the first half of this year, climbing from 129 to 139 reported
incidents for a moderate 7.8 percent increase.
Breaking down the property crimes, residential burglaries rose
from 15 reported in 2001 to 23 this year; commercial burglaries
remained at nine; and vehicle burglaries dropped from 23 to 11.
Grand thefts, generally anything taken with a value of $400 or
more, slipped slightly from 30 to 28, but petty thefts showed
the biggest numerical increase in property crimes, jumping 31.8
percent from the reported 44 a year ago to 58 this year. Reported
auto thefts also rose, from seven to 10.
There were no reported arson crimes during the first half of
2002, compared with one a year ago.
Reported Part II, or non-violent crimes, jumped a disturbing
21.6 percent from 551 in the first six months of last year to
670 this year, reflecting an increase in the crime rate-per-1,000
population from 24.03 to 29. The total number of reported Part
I and Part II crimes swelled to 824 this year from 695 last year,
an 18.6 percent increase. Based on the population of 23, 105
in the unincorporated area, the rate-per-1,000 population jumped
from 30.31 victims to 35.66.
However, many of the reported crimes could be attributed to stepped-up
law enforcement. For example, traffic arrests jumped from 88
to 127, warrant arrests increased from 66 to 79, and arrests
for driving under the influence rose from 28 to 35.
Other crimes showing increases were simple assaults, from 59
to 70; possession of stolen property, from none to five; narcotics
arrests, from 159 to 163; felony sex offenses, from four to 10;
forgery, from six to 12, misdemeanor vandalism, from 34 to 58;
disorderly conduct, from 14 to 19; and miscellaneous felonies,
from seven to 10.
Those showing declines were miscellaneous alcohol incidents,
from 22 to 18; vagrancy, from eight to one; and miscellaneous
misdemeanors, from 41 to 38.
Remaining unchanged with no reported incidents were bomb, gambling
and prostitution offenses.
Although reported domestic incidents showed an decrease from
82 to 72, 32 criminal reports for domestic incidents were taken,
up from 25 a year ago. Of the 32 incidents, only one was for
an aggravated assault, where the suspect reportedly used his
or her hands, fist or feet as a weapon.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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