Though Burbank crime reports continued climbing in the final month of 2020, the year totaled the lowest figure since 2014, according to data from the police department.
Burbank’s total reports for “index crimes” — a selection of seven incident types commonly used by law enforcement to gauge crime rates — were at 2,649 for 2020. That number of index crimes, which include thefts, robberies, aggravated assaults and burglaries, was a 5.6% decrease from 2019’s total.
The 2020 crime report total, according to the Burbank Police Department’s statistics, was Burbank’s third-lowest since 2011; only 2013, which had 2,601 reports, and 2014, which had 2,576, had lower counts.
“Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lt. Derek Green in an email, “Burbank police continued to focus on community policing efforts to develop crime prevention strategies and situational awareness through outreach and open dialogue, primarily using our social media channels.”
Green added that police officers have heightened their presence in retail areas and increased patrols in residential areas after an uptick in catalytic converter thefts, vehicle burglaries and package thefts.
He also credited the department’s full-time crime analyst for providing information police can use to respond to emerging trends. The analyst, Green said, also helps to solve crimes by regularly communicating with police departments from neighboring cities regarding crime trends and incidents between jurisdictions involving the same suspect.
At a Police Commission meeting Wednesday, Chief Scott LaChasse referenced the increase in catalytic converter thefts and encouraged residents to reach out to the department if they want to set up a virtual community meeting about crime prevention.
“We are a safe city, but you can never exercise too much safety,” he said.
LaChasse also reported Wednesday that the department responds to emergency calls in just over three minutes on average, with an average response time of about 14 minutes and 30 seconds for all calls.
He added that more officers had been deployed in anticipation of local “potential issues” during the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Wednesday, but said that none had arisen.
“This is hopefully a harbinger of things to come, that we’ve learned to get along with one another and discuss things,” LaChasse said.
CRIMES DROP IN LOCKDOWN
The nationwide decrease in many types of crimes during 2020, mostly property crimes, is often attributed to lockdown orders given during the pandemic — particularly in its early months. In April of that year, there were only 165 crime reports in Burbank, compared with 206 in April 2019 and 248 in April 2018.
The frequency of property crimes did seem to bounce back somewhat later in the year, however; in December, there were 263 reports, including 188 thefts, compared with 241 in December 2019, when there were 174 thefts.
In many cities, one type of crime did see a significant increase during 2020: homicides. NPR reported that Los Angeles had 322 homicides in 2020, a 30% increase from 2019. But in Burbank, only one incident of murder was recorded in 2020, the same as in the year previous.
That involved a shooting in July, which left two men dead. One man was found with a gunshot wound in the driveway, while a Burbank resident was found with the same in his upstairs bedroom. His wife, who was also shot, was taken to the hospital and has since recovered, according to Green.
Police said shortly after the shooting that the man found in the driveway was a suspect in the other man’s death.
Green added that the investigation into the incident remains ongoing, and that Burbank detectives are keeping information confidential because of the complexity of the situation and to avoid jeopardizing the investigation’s integrity.