The murder rate in Long Beach dropped 35.7 percent and the number of rapes decreased by 23.8 percent this year compared to 2010 statistics, according to a memorandum sent by Police Chief Jim McDonnell to Mayor Bob Foster and the City Council on Dec. 9, 2011. The memo, shared with the Signal Tribune by 5th District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske, also indicates slight increases in other violent crimes, with robbery up 1.1 percent from 2010 and aggravated assault higher than last year by 4.7 percent.
The memorandum was created in response to a Public Safety Committee request to provide the Council with quarterly crime statistics that include domestic violence, and the information provided represents crimes through the third quarter of calendar year 2011, for the period of January through September. The information, which also compares crime statistics for those same nine-month periods of 2010 and 2011, was reported to the state Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Among property crimes, residential burglary increased by 25.1 percent, but garage burglaries decreased by 6.7 percent. All other property crimes increased, including commercial burglaries (up by 17.8 percent), auto larceny (up 13.4 percent), grand theft (up 11.3 percent), petty theft greater than $50 (up 2.8 percent), petty theft less than $50 (up 5.2 percent), bike theft (up 19.1 percent), grand theft auto (up 3.2 percent), and arson (up 66.1 percent).
The 2011 crime statistics through the third quarter are below the five-year historical average number of crimes in all categories, according to the memorandum.
Schipske said she is glad to see the continuing reduction in violent crimes in Long Beach but she is still very concerned about the increases in residential burglaries. “This crime puts both the resident and her property at risk,” she said. “We need to remind residents to lock their windows and doors and to shut their garages.”
Seventh District Councilmember James Johnson, who is also a member of the Public Safety Committee, said the statistics are “great news” but also that residents need to do their part. “The Long Beach of 2011 is radically different than the Long Beach I grew up in, but there’s still more work to be done,” he said. “We need our residents to take simple measures, such as not leaving iPads and cell phones in cars, so that the police department can focus its resources on fewer petty crimes.”
First District Councilmember Robert Garcia is chair of the Public Safety Committee. “Long Beach will likely end this year with its lowest murder rate in over 40 years,” Garcia said. “Our police department is doing an incredible job, and they should be commended for their hard work.”
The next quarterly police crime statistics report, which will include information for the entire year, will be provided in late January 2012.