CITYWIDE — Most criminals caught in Santa Monica hail from outside of city borders, according to statistics released by the police department.
Santa Monica police recently created a graph depicting the total number of arrests by year from Jan. 1, 2006 to April 28, 2011, broken down by origin of the alleged criminals.
Miscreants fall into one of four categories: from Santa Monica, outside the city, transient or refuse to state.
The data are extremely consistent.
Santa Monica residents tend to comprise 20 percent of total arrests, with a high of 21 percent in 2008 and a low of 19 percent in 2007, 2010 and thus far in 2011.
Transients — defined as anyone without an address — vacillated between 34 percent of arrests in 2009 and 43 percent in 2006, which was the only year that police arrested more transients than out-of-towners.
The numbers bear out the general impression that Santa Monica’s inviting climate is attracting more than just beach-goers.
“We arrest more outside people because we’re a town built on tourism and visitors,” said Sgt. Richard Lewis, spokesman for the department. “You’ll find the same thing in Huntington Beach and places like that.”
The majority of crimes, particularly petty crimes and assaults, occur in the downtown business district, Lewis said, a testament to the draw of the shops, cars and tourists to victimize.
It’s a pattern Sgt. Tom Lorenz is very familiar with.
Lorenz works Glendale, a town that has its own problems with visitors.
Glendale is the third largest city in Los Angeles County. It has a large entertainment district for the film and movie industry, as well as a car dealership. Its two malls, combined, would be the largest in the state of California, and it has the third largest financial district on the West Coast.
Glendale’s successes draw both positive and negative elements, Lorenz said.
“It’s because we offer entertainment and a place to work, but at the same time we offer quality targets for those that want to commit thefts, burglaries or robberies,” Lorenz said.
Much like Santa Monica, the Glendale daytime population far outstrips the number of actual residents, ballooning to over half a million on a typical day, and the police jail between 700 and 900 people every month.
The city also hosts a winter shelter for the homeless that operates four months out of the year, which leads to a large number of arrests.
“Most of our physical arrests are from those that are transient or from abroad, because we do have a draw here in our city,” Lorenz said. “Crimes range from fraud type to burglaries.”
Many of the criminals come from Los Angeles city and county, which Glendale borders directly.
Unlike Glendale, Santa Monica is buffered by more affluent areas like Culver City, Marina del Rey and Westwood.
That protection will disappear in 2015 with the coming Exposition Light Rail line, a 13.5-mile train line connecting Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles.
“There is concern about a potential increase,” Santa Monica’s Lewis said.
The light rail line is expected to carry 3,500 riders to the city daily, and will be policed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on the trains and at the platforms.
Those protections will not extend into the city, however.
“The question is how are we going to police it jointly?” Lewis said.
The department is contemplating adding more officers to the transit unit, which currently only has a staff of two, Lewis said.
City Hall will also take on the challenge of dealing with the predicted influx of homeless by sticking to its main priorities of helping Santa Monica residents, those that work in the city or those that have been on the streets here a long time.
“Folks that may come into the community thinking that there’s something here to help them, we’ll encourage them to make connections with their community of origin,” said Julie Rusk, Human Services director with City Hall.