Violent crime falls in valley
By Lenny Roberts
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department
has released its crime statistics for the year ending Dec. 31,
indicating that reported violent crimes declined while property
crimes increased 18.8 percent.
Although reported rapes in the unincorporated areas of the valley
doubled from two to four, robberies and aggravated assaults dropped,
bringing the overall total of reported violent crimes to 23,
down nearly 38 percent from what was reported in 2001. Property
crimes, however, increased from 255 to 303.
In reported property crimes, the only one showing a decrease
was vehicle burglaries, which dropped from 36 to 28. Those on
the rise were residential burglaries, up 10 to 49; commercial
burglaries, up 11 to 25; and petty thefts, up 28 to 127. The
two arsons reported matched those of 2001, and reported grand
thefts increased from 50 to 51.
Law enforcement officials emphasize that increase- or decrease-percentages
in small-population areas can be misleading. More important is
that reported crimes handled by sheriff's deputies patrolling
the unincorporated areas include those which occur outside of
the valley between Casitas Springs and the Ventura city limit
- typically a higher-than-normal crime area.
In Part I crimes, the rate-per-thousand population dipped from
1.61 in 2001 to 1.00 last year.
Part II, or mostly misdemeanor offenses, swelled from 1,158 reported
in 2001 to 1,415 last year for a 22.2 percent increase. That
increase help raise the overall crime rate-per-thousand population
from 63.23 in 2001 to 75.35 last year.
Part II crime increasing last year included simple assaults,
from 121 to 161; narcotics offenses, from 303 to 371; felony
and misdemeanor sex offenses, from 10 to 27; forgeries, from
11 to 19; misdemeanor and felony vandalisms, from 80 to 133;
weapons violations, from seven to 15; and traffic arrests, from
203 to 269.
Part II crimes showing a decrease included arrests for driving
under the influence, from 69 to 48; miscellaneous alcohol-related
offenses, from 47 to 32; and frauds, from 33 to 25.
As in the city, which is also patrolled by sheriff's deputies,
there were no reported homicides last year, and no firearms or
knives were used in the reported 167 domestic violence incidents.
The heat may have contributed to the 37 crimes reported in August,
the most of any month, and the majority of the calls for service
were taken between 5 and 6 p.m. At 711, July generated the most
calls for service, followed by September, with 705. The quietest
month with 30 days or more was April, with 524 calls. Saturdays
generated the most calls for service and thursdays generated
Noncriminal events accounted for 18 percent of the calls for
service, followed by disturbance calls at 17 percent. Calls for
violent incidents numbered 383 for the year, or 5 percent of
the total calls for service.
Following a year that showed nearly no increases in incidents
of adult crimes, those reported in the unincorporated area jumped
a whopping 28 percent, with the biggest increase in the narcotics
category where 497 crimes were committed, compared with 389 in
2001. Felony and misdemeanor arrests, too, were up, from 915
in 2001 to 1,099 last year.
Crimes reportedly committed by juveniles, however, dipped from
133 to 126. Although juvenile arrests in both felony and misdemeanor
offenses rose from 97 to 108. As was the case in the city of
Ojai, narcotics offenses were the leading crimes committed by
juveniles as twenty-three people under the age of 18 were arrested.
By comparison, there were three narcotics-related arrests made
in 1990, and none in 1991.
When the emphasis on traffic enforcement began in 1997, a decade-high
1,438 citation were written. In subsequent years, the number
of citations written continued to decline until a slight upturn
in 2001. Last year, citations appear to be on the rise as 949
were written.. Of those, 157 were for hazardous violations, 56
were for excessive speed, 16 were for lack of restraints, six
were right-of-way offenses, and 714 fell into the category of
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