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Theft Drives Crime Hike in Santa Monica
By Jorge Casuso
May 30, 2023 -- The number of serious crimes reported in Santa Monica rose by 14 percent during the first quarter of 2023, driven by a spike in larceny, according to SMPD crime data released last week.
Meanwhile less serious crimes -- which include simple assault, DUIs, fraud, vandalism and narcotics -- rose by 19 percent, compared to the same period last year, the data show.
The increases come as SMPD saw calls for service drop by 7 percent -- from 24,508 during the first quarter of 2022 to 22,825 this year.
During that period, the number of arrests increased from 403 to 662, largely due to an increase in officer initiated responses, according to police officials.
Serious crimes -- which include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, grand theft auto and arson -- increased form 1,028 incidents reported in the first quarter of 2022 to 1,177 this year.
The increase was driven by a hike in larceny -- the unlawful taking of personal property -- which jumped from 580 incidents during the first quarter of last year to 735 incidents reported this year.
Of the total number of larcenies, 180 involved auto parts theft, with catalytic converters accounting for 80 percent of the reports.
Shoplifting accounted for 153 larceny incidents, with Nordstrom, followed by TJ Maxx, reporting the largest number of incidents.
Pick-pocketing incidents increased five-fold -- from 7 in the first quarter of 2022 to 35 this year -- with several of the incidents involving 25 cell phones stolen by three suspects.
Burglary rose from 163 incidents during the first three months of last year to 180 this year, the data show.
"Notably, 40 percent of residential incidents involved garages/carports and 31 percent involved apartment lobbies and storage areas," police officials said.
Robbery incidents also increased, from 39 during the first quarter last year to 47 this year, with 26 of the incidents resulting in an arrest.
The number of aggravated assaults decreased by 11 percent this year, from 82 incidents during the first quarter last year to 73, with 14 of the incidents involving domestic violence.
Grand theft auto incidents also decreased, from 135 vehicle thefts reported last year to 110 this year, with 68 of the vehicles recovered.
Arson incidents dipped from 21 to 19, with 68 percent involving city-owned trash and recycling containers.
Rape increased from 8 incidents reported during the first quarter of 2022 to 13 during the same period this year.
There were no homicides reported during the first quarter this year.
Of the 756 Part II crimes reported during the first quarter this year (up from 637 in 2022), 175 were vandalism incidents and 174 were for simple assault, which can involve shoving or slapping someone.
There were 67 incidents of public intoxication and 58 incidents involving narcotics, in addition to five reports of narcotic sales.
"SMPD's Crime Analysts conducted a review and analysis of the reported information," police officials said. "It is important to note, this is preliminary data used to inform the public.
"Information is extracted by the occurrence date and may change after review and investigation," officials said.
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