Graphic from Santa Monica Police Dept.

Santa Monica experienced 8.8 percent more serious crime in 2018, including thefts, burglaries and aggravated assaults. The same category of crime rose by 12 percent in 2017 and 5.5 percent in 2016.

Serious crimes rose 29 percent in Santa Monica between 2015 and 2018 and law enforcement has maintained that legislation that has decriminalized certain offenses has allowed repeat criminals to return to the streets shortly after being sentenced. The Santa Monica Police Department told the Daily Press last year that it arrests the same people frequently.

Property crimes and thefts drove much of Santa Monica’s crime increase last year, as they did in 2017 and 2016. There were 373 more thefts in 2018 than 2017 and 450 more serious crimes total.

Aggravated assaults and robbery made up 56.7 percent and 34.9 percent of violent crimes, respectively. 7.5 percent of violent crimes were rapes and .9 percent were murders. SMPD made arrests in 51 percent of the 273 robberies reported.

2018 saw 119 more vehicle burglaries and police chief Cynthia Renaud said in a YouTube address to the city that it was common for perpetrators to smash car windows to steal electronics, bags and jewelry left in plain sight. Thieves are also targeting those items in public spaces, Renaud said.

“I preach this constantly, but I’ll take a moment to say it again now: please do not leave valuables in your cars, lock your homes when you leave and be diligent and aware of your purses, your backpacks and your bicycles when you’re out and about,” Renaud said.

Renaud said the department has hired 20 new officers after operating with a shortage of officers for several years as longtime officers retired. SMPD has the budget for 235 officers but only employed 215 as of January 2018.

“We’re deploying those personnel into field-based units and getting more officers on patrol and out of their cars in neighborhoods and business districts,” she said. “We’re moving more mounted units into our parks and open spaces.”

The department’s homeless liaison team now patrols beaches, parks and open spaces seven times per week and public safety officers have been deployed downtown and in parks, Renaud said. SMPD said in January 2018 that about 30 percent of calls for service were homelessness-related and that proportion has remained relatively steady even as Santa Monica’s homeless population has dramatically increased in the past few years.

The department is also targeting problem areas, including parking areas and even restaurants.

The City of Santa Monica ordered a downtown McDonald’s to close overnight in November 2018 because it had become a hotbed for crime, receiving more calls for service than any other location. Renaud said SMPD has deployed contracted security guards to patrol dark and secluded parking areas and has added lighting and CCTV cameras to garages.

Renaud urged residents to attend SMPD’s community police academy, start a neighborhood watch group or sponsor a meet your neighbors event in addition to securing their valuables and homes.

In Los Angeles, crime fell in all categories except personal thefts in 2018 after five years of increases. The Los Angeles Police Department credits the drop to crime-fighting strategies it developed several years ago, including community intervention, beefing up its Metropolitan Division and data analysis.

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  1. The only reason crime drops in Los Angeles is because they take less crime reports. Crime has not gone down in Los Angeles….know that!!

  2. why is the city council allowing criminals to pay 500$ for bail? Or allowing other people (stealing bicycles, breaking into garages, citizens calling and waiting 15-20 min to appear. Yet, call the police on the 7-11 across the street from Santan Monica’s humungous hotel on 7th and Wilshire. the bums were harassing the owners of 7-11 and we called the police. Within less than 2 minutes and rounded up the bums? Why did they appear so quickly? Because of the guests complaining they are tired of being harassed for cigs, money food, people who haven’t taken a shower in 6 months. Yes the police were there in 2 minutes with sirens coming from north, south, east, west. The city council has already told the police to protect all these high-end hotels, NOT THE PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY WHO ARE CALLING FOR EMERGENCY HELP. This is the makings of the SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL NOT THE POLICE. I had a familty member quit the SM Police department after 20 years because he was tired of the city council changing stat reports on crime. Santa Monica has a higher crime rate than any other city in CA. Yet we are not informed and your city council wants to build more projects for low income folks. I’m all for that, but what about housing projects for the welfare folks. NO THANK YOU. Keep them out of our city. Stop coddling them. What would happen if they wanted to move to Beverly Hills? Would that city be tearing down buildings to house the homeless ? I don’t think so.

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