Violent crimes down, thefts up in Del Mar

DEL MAR — Violent crimes in Del Mar decreased slightly in 2011 compared to the previous year, but property crime was up nearly 40 percent during the same time span, according to statistics released in April by the San Diego Association of Governments. 

“Thefts from vehicles and residential burglaries … accounted for much of the rise in crime throughout the county and specifically here in Del Mar,” Capt. Sherri Sarro told council members during the June 18 meeting.

She said wallets, purses, credit cards and IDs were frequently stolen from cars, while electronic equipment, jewelry and money were targets in residential burglaries.

There were 15 cars stolen in 2011, 10 more than the previous year.

“There’s nothing that correlates as to why we had a few additional thefts of vehicles here in the city other than this is a city that drives higher-end types of vehicles and sometimes criminals just target the fact that they want that particular car,” Sarro said.

In 2008, all crimes in the city were down from the previous year but there was an across-the-board increase in 2009. In 2010, burglaries and thefts continued to decline but assaults went up marginally. Last year assaults decreased but all other crimes went up again.

In Del Mar in 2007 there were 18 violent crimes, including rape, homicide and aggravated assault. In 2010 that number increased slightly to 19 then dropped to 16 last year.

There were 129 property crimes in the city in 2010. That increased by 39 percent, to to 179 last year. While that represents a 17.5 percent decrease from a high of 217 in 2007, “that still doesn’t make us feel any better,” Sarro said.

“There’s no particular reason that crime goes up in a particular year but we do see some trends in different years,” she said. “I think some of the new technology accounts for some of the rise and lowering of crime.

“You’ve got a lot of good stuff,” she said. “People are coming here to commit their crimes and then going back and living in other places in the county.

“We need to educate the public,” Sarro said, noting that people often leave purses, wallets, phones or iPads on car seats.

“That’s a crime of opportunity,” she said. “A criminal walks by, sees something and boom, they’re going to break in and steal it.

“You make it too easy,” she said. “It doesn’t explain all of it but some of that opportunity can be taken away by people being a little smarter and securing their possessions.”

Council members said some residents are hesitant to summon police if, in their opinion, they are the victim of a minor crime, such as having a surfboard stolen.

“You’ve got to call us,” Sarro said.

Officers need to take a report and look at crime statistics in the area, she said, adding that if someone is stopped with stolen property it’s easier to return the items if they were reported stolen.

Sarro said officers can take a report over the phone but they prefer to visit the crime scene, look for evidence and canvass the area.

“We want to get a true picture and maybe even offer some tips,” she said. The patrol schedule can be adjusted to address any increases in crime during a particular time of day or in a specific area.

Sarro said there has been a countywide uptick in nonviolent crimes because there isn’t a lot of jail time for those offenses and repeat offenders know that.

“That’s a problem countywide that was kind of given to us by the state,” she said.

Sarro said anything that can deter criminals is beneficial, including forming neighborhood watch programs and installing alarm systems and surveillance cameras.

She also recommended taking pictures of valuables and recording the serial numbers on electronic equipment.

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