Part 1 Crime Down in Santa Monica While Arson and Other Categories See Rise

Santa Monica police release annual report

By Dolores Quintana

The official SMPD report on crime statistics for 2021 has revealed a 2.9 percent reduction in Part One offenses. The report is an overview of calls for police service and arrest reports for Part One offenses, some of the most serious crimes, which are Aggravated Assault, Arson, Burglary, Grand Theft Auto, Homicide, Larceny, Rape and Robbery. The report does note that the last two years have been an “anomaly” due to the events that have taken place during that time namely the “unrest of 2020 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic”. The criminal analysts of the SMPD reviewed the information along with the historical data to provide their analysis and the report does point out that this is a preliminary report which might change.

The report shows the record of the total crimes in Santa Monica for a period of five years from 2017 to 2021:

2017: 5009
2018: 5,441
2019: 4,601
2020: 4,377
2021: 4,248

The report notes, right off the bat, that the arrest rate has dropped significantly and that the decline can be attributed to pandemic stay-at-home orders and the attempts to minimize contact between people during the pandemic.

The arrest statistics are listed by year as well:

2017: 3,292
2018: 3,774
2019: 3,840
2020: 1,538
2021: 1,559

The crime of rape has had a notable decrease over the five-year period. The crime went from a high of 55 in 2017 to 49 in 2018 to 35 in 2019 with a small increase in 2020 to 37 and a noticeable drop to 23 in 2021.

Murders have stayed relatively stable over the last five years with a spike in 2018. There were 3 in 2017, 3 in 2019, 1 in 2020 and 2 in 2021.

Strong-arm robberies are the most common crime committed in the city, while robberies committed with other weapons lag behind strong-arm crimes. Robberies committed with firearms came in second, with an exception in the year of 2018, with 42 firearm robberies in 2017, 32 in 2018, 48 in 2019, 29 in 2020 and 22 in 2021. Robberies committed with miscellaneous types of other weapons are 34 in 2017, beats firearms in 2018 with 39, 25 in 2019, 12 in 2020 and 13 in 2021. However, in total, even robberies have declined after the spike in 2018 with 240 in 2017, 272 in 2018, 248 in 2019, 166 in 2020 and 157 in 2021. Aggravated assaults are mostly committed with hands, knives or other weapons, the highest percentage, but assaults with firearms have experienced an alarming increase over the last five years from a low of 18 in 2017 to high of 30 in 2021

Non-residential burglaries have increased during this time period, while residential burglaries has maintained a relatively stable level with a high of 431 in 2018 and a low of 325 in 2021, non-residential burglaries had a low of 180 in 2019 and a spike of 529 in 2020, the report notes that the unrest of 2020 and the stay at home orders caused that spike during that year.

Arson has experienced a serious rise since 2017, after a marked decrease in 2018 to 19 incidents, from 29 in 2019, 59 in 2020 and 81 in 2021. The report notes that many of these incidents of arson, about 40 percent, are fires that are set in trash and recycle bins rather than structures or other types of property.

Crimes involving vehicles, like grand theft auto and auto parts theft, have increased overall. Grand theft hit a low of 236 in 2018 after 265 thefts in 2017. The increase of 249 in 2019 led to a spike to 394 in 2020 and another upward trend to 420 in 2021. The thefts of trucks and buses have had a large increase from 47 in 2017 to 191 in 2021. Auto parts theft has increased largely because of the trend of catalytic converter thefts from parked vehicles while overall the larceny statistics in general have shown a downward trend from 3,429 in 2017 to 2,453 in 2021. The height of auto parts thefts from vehicles peaked in 2018 with 3820 incidents and, while the totals are larger than all other types of auto parts theft, have trended downwards each year since with a low of 2,453 in 2021.

Calls for service from residents of the city hit a height in 2018 of 132,514 calls to a low of 97,536 calls in 2020, largely because of pandemic stay-at-home orders. Calls bounced back in 2021 to 101,040 calls to police.

The SMPD chief of police Ramon Batista said in the introduction to the report, “Although the overall numbers of reported crimes are down, we are sensitive to and respect the fear of crime. Our focus and attention to issues of crime and disorder will always be a top priority at SMPD.”

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