By Leon Worden/SCVNEWS.com
The numbers are in, and Santa Clarita is in a virtual dead heat with Malibu for “Biggest Improvement” honors.
Violent crimes reported to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station fell by a whopping 32.4 percent last year, according to data from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Santa Clarita had led the way the past several months as violent crime fell across the county, but the Malibu/Lost Hills station moved into the lead at 32.6 percent in the final full-year tally.
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The Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday that violent crime fell by an average of 13.81 percent across its 23 reporting areas. It released details on the individual reporting areas Wednesday.
Violent crimes include homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Among those, the SCV Station reported the biggest improvement in aggravated assault, which fell by 34.6 percent to a total of 238 for the year, or 8.86 for every 10,000 residents.
Going the other direction was the SCV’s homicide rate, which doubled from three murders in 2010 to six in 2011.
In the broader category of major or “Part 1″ crimes, Santa Clarita was No. 5 out of 23 for “most improved.”
Part 1 crimes include the aforementioned violent crimes and the larger number of serious property crimes: burglary, larceny, grand theft auto and arson.
Taken together, the SCV Station posted a 10.2 percent drop in Part 1 crimes. Tiny Avalon was the county leader with a 30.6 percent decline, followed by Altadena (down 24.1 percent), South Los Angeles (down 12.5 percent) and San Dimas (down 11.6 percent).
Countywide, Part 1 crimes fell by 4.25 percent.
In terms of five-year improvement, Santa Clarita was No. 3 in the county with a 34 percent decline in Part 1 crimes since 2006. Again, Avalon led the way with 67.9 fewer major crimes, followed by Lancaster with a 39.3 percent drop.
Sheriff’s officials made note of the significant decline in homicides in the Lancaster and Compton Station patrol areas. Lancaster’s homicide rate has tumbled 68.4 percent since 2006 to 7 from 20, while Compton posted a 41.9 percent improvement over that time, falling to 25 from 45.
Across the county, the murder rate fell by 5 percent in the areas patrolled by sheriff’s deputies – to 166 in 2011 from 174 in 2010.
City vs. Unincorporated SCV
The data show that unincorporated Santa Clarita Valley residents were less likely than city dwellers to be victimized. The overall Part 1 crime rate fell by 15.9 percent in the unincorporated SCV last year and by just half that much – 7.8 percent – within city limits.
The five-year totals show a similar difference, with major crimes falling by 42.5 percent in county portions of the valley versus just 29.5 percent in the city.
Of the 3,936 Part 1 crimes reported across the SCV last year, 2,832 were in the city and 1,104 were in the county. In 2006 the total number was 6,369.
Not all crimes were distributed equally across the city and county areas of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Statistically meaningless is the homicide rate, which increased by 366.7 in the city because 5 murders occurred inside city limits during 2011 versus one in 2010. Meanwhile, murders in the unincorporated SCV fell by 50 percent, to one from two in 2010.
Somewhat more telling is the category of rape. Forcible rapes in the city fell by 14.3 percent in the city last year to 18 from 21 , and by 39.8 percent in the unincorporated area, to 6 from 10.
But the city outpaced the county for improvement in the robbery category. Robberies in the city fell by 36.9 percent last year in the city, to 77 from 122. In the unincorporated areas, robberies fell to 25 from 27, a 7.2 percent decline.
The city fell behind in aggravated assaults with only a 26.4 percent decline (to 173 from 235). And while a 26.4 percent improvement might seem strong, the unincorporated SCV saw 49.6 percent fewer aggravated assaults last year (65 versus 129 in 2010).
Reported burglaries were down 16.9 percent in the unincorporated SCV on the year (to 301 from 362) and by just 2.1 percent in the city (to 565 fro m577).
The city and county essentially tied in larceny and petty theft, down 5 percent in the city and 4.9 percent in the county (1,762 and 623 last year, respectively).
Grand theft auto was down sharply in the unincorporated SCV, where 40.1 percent fewer vehicles were stolen last year (70 versus 117 in 2010). The rate fell by 12.7 percent in the city (213 versus 244 a year ago).
Arson is the one major crime category where the entire Santa Clarita Valley could use some improvement. Arson was down 7.6 across the county last year but actually increased by 5.9 percent in the city, to 19 incidents from 18 – and by 30.6 percent in the unincorporated SCV, to 13 incidents from 10.