Total Ojai crime rate declines
By Lenny Roberts
While the overall crime rate
within the city limits of Ojai for the first half of the year
reversed the recent trend by falling 2.9 percent, authorities
say the violent crime increase cannot be taken as a serious threat
because of Ojai's small population.
For example, robberies doubled - from two to four - and aggravated
assaults rose from five to seven, raising the total violent crimes
from eight to 11 for a 37.5 percent increase. Figured into the
mix was a 100 percent drop in rapes, from one during the first
six months of 2002 to none this year.
However, the increase in assaults in the city when compared with
a 13-to-eight decrease in the unincorporated areas of the Ojai
Valley did concern Ojai Police Chief Gary Pentis, who said that
recently published information countywide that addressed Ojai's
crime rate may have been misleading.
"I'm a little upset because the statistics that were reported
are in percentages rather than raw numbers, and that does not
give the public an accurate picture," Pentis said.
"The majority of assaults are youth-related. One of the
reasons they're up in city is that we have had increased city
gang membership and activities, and a lot of that activity has
led to these assaults. We have not seen a surge in our county
area gang membership."
As was the case in 2002, there were no homicides in the city.
The total number of property crimes dropped from 99 to 96, with
only burglaries, which rose from eight to 12, and auto thefts,
which doubled to two, showing increases. Reported commercial
burglaries dropped from eight to six; vehicle burglaries dipped
from seven to two; petty thefts slipped from 58 to 56; and the
16 grand thefts were two better than last year.
Pentis called the failure of Proposition 36 - drug education
for first-time offenders - as a contributing factor to increased
thefts. He sees a direct correlation between the decrease in
narcotic arrests and the decrease in vehicle burglaries.
"We have currently several of our more active vehicle burglars
in custody behind narcotics charges, and we do see that that
does have an affect on the trends," he said. "We commonly
see that when those individuals are released, our thefts increase.
We then have to put of lot of investigative efforts into those
thefts coupled with the surveillance of those suspects."
Part II, or nonviolent crimes, showed an overall improvement
from 416 through June 30 last year to 404 for the same period
this year. Like aggravated assaults, simple assaults were on
the rise, from 24 to 34, for a 41.7 increase. That increase,
along with 45 alcohol-related arrests, helped stifle a greater
overall decrease in all reported crimes. Significant property
crimes which dropped included felony narcotic arrests (56 from
52), fraud (13 to 6), miscellaneous felonies (six to three),
miscellaneous misdemeanors (32 to 25) and combined warrant and
traffic arrests, from 93 to 87.
The 76 traffic collisions within the city limits - 13 fewer than
in the first half of 2002 - did not go unnoticed by Pentis.
"Hopefully, that's 26 less cars that needed to go to the
body shops and a lot less pain and suffering," Pentis said.
"Our traffic program is concentrating on intersections with
high accident rates, and people are being much more careful."
The Ojai Valley News
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