Santa Clarita crime drops to 4-year low

By Jerry Berrios, Daily News Staff Writer
Updated: 01/29/2009 10:57:03 PM PST

SANTA CLARITA – Crime in the Santa Clarita Valley hit a four-year low in 2008, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station.

Crime in the city of Santa Clarita and the unincorporated area patrolled by the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station decreased by nearly 14percent, officials said.

The majority of serious crimes – including homicides, forcible rapes and burglaries – were down overall compared with 2007, but there were some increases in robbery and aggravated assault.

Capt. Anthony La Berge of the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station called a double- digit decrease a “tremendous accomplishment.”

“We continue to keep our community a safe place to live, work and play,” La Berge said Thursday. “We continue to drive home that message – `Not in Santa Clarita’ – to those who might commit crime here.”

La Berge credits the decrease to several factors including targeted gang enforcement and increased communications with residents through e-mail, the station’s Web site, the media, homeowners associations and Neighborhood Watch groups. Plus, deputies continued their intervention work with at-risk youths.

In the city limits of Santa Clarita, two homicides were committed last year, compared with one in 2007. Increases also occurred in aggravated assault, robbery and grand theft auto. The remaining serious crimes – forcible rape, burglary, larceny theft and arson – saw decreases. Serious crimes decreased by 14.6 percent in the city last year, compared with 2007.

In the unincorporated area, one homicide was committed last year, compared with eight in 2007 – an 87.5 percent decrease. The area also saw increases in aggravated assaults and burglary and decreases in the remaining categories. Major crimes decreased by 11.6 percent in the unincorporated area last year, compared with the previous year.

La Berge admits that the hard work isn’t over.

“Now the biggest challenge we have is dealing with a troubled economy, troubled housing and job markets that can heighten both domestic and business tensions,” he said.

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