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Crime Dips During COVID-19 Shutdown, Calls for Service Plummet

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

Santa Monica Apartments

Santa Monica College
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Santa Monica, CA 90405
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By Jorge Casuso

February 19, 2021 -- Serious crime dropped by 256 incidents in Santa Monica last year, but there were nearly 26,000 fewer calls for service as the coronavirus emergency shut down the city.

Overall, violent crime -- which includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, grand theft auto and arson -- dropped by 5.5 percent, from 4,601 reported incidents in 2019 to 4,346 last year.

Meanwhile, calls for service plummeted from 123,491 total incidents in 2019 to 97,536 last year, a 25 percent drop.

Commercial burglaries nearly tripled last year due in large part to the riots and looting on May 31, while auto part theft skyrocketed and grand theft auto spiked.

However, there were fewer aggravated assaults and robberies during the shutdown, with homeless individuals accounting for most of the arrests.

Thefts of auto parts accounted for the sharpest increase in crime, rising by 272 percent -- from 108 reported incidents in 2019 to 402 last year. Of those about 57 percent involved thefts of catalytic converters.

"Increase in Catalytic Converter thefts is something other neighboring agencies have struggled with this year as well," police officials said.

Meanwhile bicycle theft increased by 5 percent, from 441 incidents to 465. Of those, about 36 percent were stolen from residential garages, car ports and lots.

Grant theft auto also saw a marked increase last year -- from 249 incidents reported in 2019 to 395, a 59 percent jump. Most of the reported incidents took place in the evening and overnight.

"We have been observing an elevated activity since the stay-at-home order was issued, with August being the most impacted month in 2020," police officials said.

"This is another crime category that neighboring agencies have indicated experiencing a notable increase in."

Of the vehicles stolen, 289 were recovered, most without major damage, police said. Most of the vehicles were recovered by outside agencies.

Non-residential burglaries saw a 193 percent hike -- from 180 reported incidents in 2019 to 528 last year, many of them taking place on May 31, police said.

Arson was another crime that saw a spike due to the riots -- jumping from 29 in 2019 to 58, a 100 percent increase.

Residential burglaries "showed a spike during summer months and elevated pace in the fall/winter," resulting in a 4 percent annual increase -- from 388 incidents in 2019 to 402 last year, according to police.

Other forms of larceny -- pickpocket, shoplifting, and larceny from vehicles and buildings -- all saw a drop likely due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Those decreases resulted in an overall drop in larceny from 3,150 incidents in 2019 to 2,480 last year, a 21 percent drop.

The number of reported robberies and aggravated assaults both decreased, with aggravated assaults involving the homeless accounting for most of the arrests.

Aggravated assaults dropped from 319 in 2019 to 281 last year, a 12 percent decrease. Of those, 140 -- or half -- of the incidents resulted in arrests.

Homeless individuals were arrested in 84 of the reported incidents, with 31 of them homeless-on-homeless attacks. At least 44 incidents, or 16 percent, involved domestic violence.

Homeless suspects accounted for most of the arrests for robbery, which dropped from 248 reported incidents in 2019 to 166 last year. Of the 69 suspects arrested for robbery, 46 were homeless.

Of the total robbery reports, 75 took place in commercial locations, with 45 of the shoplifters using force or fear to avoid arrest.

The number of murders dropped last year, from a total of 3 in 2019 to 1. The number of rapes remained steady with 35 incidents reported.

December saw an increase in serious crime compared to 2019, with increases in aggravated assault, non-residential burglary, auto parts and bike thefts, grand theft auto and arson.

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