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Santa Monica Police Department's 2019 Crime Update

February 10, 2020
by Cynthia Renaud

 Santa Monica Police Department's 2019 Crime Update

In police work, we often compare crime from one year to the other. This helps create benchmarks so we can determine if crime is up or down. While it’s a great tool, it does not provide the entire picture of what is happening with crime in our community.  I want to share the latest crime trends and get into the key details about those crimes.    

Overall, crime is trending downwards in Santa Monica and has been for the last thirteen months. Now, this does not mean that crime is not happening, or the perception of crime is non-existent. Even though it has been the lowest it has been, I understand, our residents have concerns about the types of crime happening in our City and the perception of those crimes.  

As the graph shows above, crime has been rising steadily since 2015.  In 2019, we made some changes to our workforce and the way we approach crime. These efforts have led to a substantial decrease.  If we keep operating at the level we are currently, our crime will be the lowest it has been in six decades. 

Now, let’s take a look into our numbers and put them into context. 

Part I crime is often discussed in two categories: 

  • Violent crime
  • Property crime 

Violent Crime is down this year by 16% and our Violent Crime is comprised mostly of Aggravated Assaults and Robberies.  In our Aggravated Assault category, 21% of those are crimes of Domestic Violence related. 

The remaining 79% are related to road rage, workplace violence, and alcohol-related issues.  In the 318 aggravated assaults, SMPD made arrests in 80% of the cases. 

In the robbery category, 22% were Estes Robberies, meaning they began as shoplifts from stores but the suspect used force trying to flee; 60% were “strong-arm” robberies, meaning no weapon was used, and in the majority of those crimes the #1 loss was a cell phone. 

Santa Monica experienced 16% fewer property crimes in 2019. Larceny of all types still drive crime in our city.  The category of larceny includes shoplifting, bicycle thefts, and items stolen out of unlocked vehicles.

Bicycle thefts saw a particularly high increase in 2018, climbing to 632 incidents.  In 2019, we saw the number reduced to 438 incidents of stolen bicycles. This is the lowest number of stolen bikes we have seen in the last five years.  Still, bicycle theft makes up 14% of all larcenies. 

Shoplifting is just the opposite. For the past four years, it’s been consistent at about 350-380 incidents every year. But in 2019, we had 479 incidents. This category accounts for 15% of all larcenies. 

And the last big category is theft from motor vehicles. This is when a car is left unlocked and someone enters it and steals things.  Theft from one’s car accounts for 37% of our larcenies.  Keep in mind that in 38% of those cases, we found the car was left unlocked. When the car is locked and broken into, that crime is now classified as a burglary. We’ve made progress in 2019 with 354 fewer incidents of thefts from vehicles and burglaries to vehicles. We found that backpacks are the #1 item stolen, followed by laptops and other electronics, so please don’t leave these items in your car, whether your car is locked or unlocked. 

In the burglary category, residential burglary accounted for 68% of all burglaries. This is, however, 44 fewer residential burglaries than the year before. Of the 387 residential burglaries, we found out that in 38% of all the cases, the homes were left unlocked. 

In 2019, the Santa Monica Police Department handled 123,491 calls for service and made 3,840 arrests.  We intend to work hard in 2020 to continue to decrease crime and increase our citizen’s sense of safety.  And, you have a new cadre of leaders who have risen through the ranks of SMPD to serve you. I am pleased to announce that I recently promoted three captains, four lieutenants, and three sergeants.

As always, remember to secure your valuables, lock your cars and homes, be aware of your surroundings when out and about, report suspicious or criminal behavior.  And please, get to know us.  If you have some in-person time to spare, participate in our Community Police Academy. Let’s step into this new decade the right way: with a safer city built on strong relationships between all of us.

Watch Santa Monica Police Department's 2019 crime update video. 

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