SM Burglary Rate Slowed by End of 2017

Source: San Marino, Alhambra, San Gabriel and South Pasadena police departmentsAfter 2017 started with double-digit burglaries each month from January to July, the number of incidents started tapering down almost across the board.
In San Marino, 2017 ended with a 2.14% increase in all Part 1 crimes — those considered serious offenses — which represents six more than the 280 recorded in 2016.
Police Chief John Incontro, who recently presented the year-end statistics to the City Council, looks to maintain the downward trend of the last half of 2017, particularly with regard to burglars who have tormented San Marino residents.
“Things are getting better,” Incontro told the City Council. “That’s what I’m seeing.”
There were 125 burglaries (residential and commercial) recorded by San Marino Police Department last year, which is a 22.55% increase from the 102 recorded in 2016. Broken down, residential burglaries were 108 of last year’s burglaries, up from the 96 recorded in 2016.
Burglaries spiked in March to 18, but there were no more than 10 in any month from July on, with a low of five in December. Of the homes that were burglarized, Incontro said only 32% of them had alarm systems that had been activated when residents left the home.
“The challenge is getting people to see the importance of security devices,” he said. “The next step is getting people to understand that security devices should be monitored. We’ll continue that and we’ll work on different ideas. Hopefully with the new Public Safety Commission, we can work in concert to develop new ideas of getting that message out.”
There was a marked increase in recorded attempted burglaries last year, with 32. There were 14 recorded in 2016.
Incontro said anecdotally that this might be a result of more would-be burglars being thwarted along the way.
“Our assumption is that it’s alarms, it’s doorbell cameras and actually neighbors who were seeing suspicious things and reporting it to the police,” he said.
As far as trends go, Wednesday, Tuesday and Monday were, in that order, the most common days for the burglaries, with most of them occurring in the evening. Other than that, it was difficult to identify obvious trends to the crimes, which were spread throughout the city.
“We weren’t able to make a connection,” Incontro said. “Six of the victims had a gardener that day, but there’s no indication the crime occurred when the gardener were there. We’re not seeing a correlation with the employees of the trash company. About 14 homes had construction nearby, but we have a lot of construction going on throughout the city.”
Three of San Marino’s neighboring cities, whose police departments collaborated with SMPD for a burglary prevention task force for a portion of last year, experienced declines in their burglaries year-over-year, although their actual burglary numbers remained higher than San Marino’s. Those cities — Alhambra, San Gabriel and South Pasadena — also have larger populations and continuing issues with other types of crimes.
There were 202 residential burglaries in Alhambra last year, a 17.55% decline from the 245 it had in 2016. However, there were 107 commercial burglaries, a 22.99% jump from the prior year’s 87.
In San Gabriel, there were 125 residential burglaries last year, which was a 22.36% decrease from the 161 the previous year. There also were 74 commercial burglaries in 2017, which was a 17.46% jump from the 63 the previous year.
In South Pasadena, there were 97 residential burglaries last year, a 29.2% decrease from the 137 the prior year. There were 33 commercial burglaries, which was a 10% jump from the 30 in 2016.
It should be noted that although these cities showed a decline in residential burglaries when compared with San Marino, they have more issues with violent crime. In addition to having substantially larger populations, the three cities also contain more bars and restaurants serving alcohol.
“Some of the places have gang issues,” Incontro said. “Even though South Pasadena doesn’t have gangs, they’re right up against two places that do — Los Angeles and Pasadena.”
San Marino has historically had minimal violent crime, although its reported aggravated assaults last year increased from 13 to 22. Incontro attributed the increase to more victims coming forward to report these incidents, which were mostly domestic violence.
“We only had one incident last year where the parties didn’t know each other,” he added. “We just don’t have those kinds of calls.”
Moving forward, Incontro said he plans to continue community outreach activities and meeting with local organizations to build awareness. He looks to have a fully staffed department by the summer and he said he may restructure shifts to allocate more resources and officers during day shifts.
The department will continue to utilize equipment such as traffic light-mounted cameras, whose practical benefits have been limited but can nevertheless serve as a deterrent.
“I think the presence on the streets, residents have really noticed,” Councilwoman Gretchen Shepherd Romey told Incontro. “Even though you’re describing them as a silent eye, I do think they may contribute to that deterrent effect.”
Incontro said he is currently exploring an agreement with the Ring Video Doorbell to allow its local clients to grant SMPD access to the device’s footage when necessary. He added that although detectives and commanders across jurisdictions continue to routinely meet to exchange information and case updates, task force-related actions have been limited lately thanks to workloads.
“We do respond to each other’s calls, but planned operations aren’t really going on,” he said.
The complete 2017 crime and traffic reports can be viewed on the March 2 City Council meeting agenda packet available at ci.san-marino.ca.us.

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