COAST CITIES — When looking at 2012 crime statistics for the county’s two smallest cities, the news is good and bad.Violent crimes were down more than 6 percent in Del Mar and 27 percent in Solana Beach, but the overall crime rate was up about 22 percent.
An increase in property crimes, one third of which is attributed to bicycle thefts, caused the spike, sheriff’s Capt. Robert Haley told City Council members in both cities during annual updates in mid-June.
Seven bikes were stolen in Del Mar in 2011 compared to 19 in 2012. In Solana Beach, 14 were taken in 2011 compared to 36 last year.
Del Mar pays $1.8 million annually for one patrol sergeant, one traffic deputy who works Thursday through Sunday, a detective and a 24/7 patrol deputy.
The total number of crimes in Del Mar went from 195 in 2011 to 226 in 2012. Of those, 41, or 18 percent, occurred at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which has contracts with the Sheriff’s Department per event so “your deputy does not go to the fairgrounds to respond,” Haley said at the June 17 Del Mar City Council meeting.
There were 16 violent crimes in 2012, down two from the previous year, and no robberies.
Of the 2,470 calls for service, most were for public safety concerns. Deputies initiated activity 4,378 times.
There were 518 traffic citations issued in 2012. As of last month, less than halfway through the year, that number was nearing 400.
At red-light camera intersections there were 1,283 violations but only 954 were considered viable. The top three reasons for rejection were sun glare, plate obstruction and driver obstruction, meaning the motorist ducked as the photo was being taken.
Haley said citations were up because many people believed the cameras had been turned off, as they have been in El Cajon, the city of San Diego and Poway.
Of the 52 traffic collisions in Del Mar, none were fatal, although they caused 18 injuries. The top three accident sites were Camino del Mar from Fourth Street to Coast Boulevard, the intersection of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and Via de la Valle and on Coast Boulevard, mostly at 18th Street.
Forty-two people were arrested for driving under the influence. Most were at the fairgrounds, where overall crime increased by 38 percent 2012.
Solana Beach is assigned one patrol sergeant, two Community-Oriented Policing Problem Solving deputies, two traffic deputies, a motor deputy, a detective, a part-time community services officer who primarily works the red-light camera system and three patrol deputies with overlapping schedules for an annual cost of $3.3 million.
The total number of crimes in that city went from 276 in 2011 to 337 in 2012. Deputies were dispatched for 82 percent of the 4,097 calls for service. Of those, 287 were for burglary calls and 255 were reporting a suspicious person. Deputies responded to 233 home alarms.
Last year 1,300 traffic citations were issued. With 1,193 written as of last month, “We’re on pace to more than double what we did last year,” Haley said. The main reason for the increase is motorists aren’t following traffic rules in the construction areas.
Red-light camera citations were also up in Solana Beach because people thought they were turned off. Of the 2,826 violations, 2,167 were cited.
The top two reasons for rejection were sun glare and motorists making a safe turn on red even though they may not have come to a complete stop.
The 25 traffic collisions in Solana Beach resulted in 14 injuries and no fatalities. Forty-four people were arrested for driving under the influence.
Haley said crime statistics are based on a city’s population, which is about 4,200 in Del Mar and 12,800 in Solana Beach. Because the cities are “destination locations” for the beaches and large events such as the annual fair and horse races, as well as triathlons and bicycle races, they consistently attract people from outside the area.
“Increased population equates to an increase in crimes,” Haley said.
In addition to their regular staffing, each city receives ancillary support services such as SWAT, an ASTREA helicopter and a bomb arson team, “which visits the beach more than you would think picking up devices from Camp Pendleton,” Haley said.
The Sheriff’s Department is working more closely with the Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol to address the increase in panga boats used to transport people and drugs.
Haley said a new law aimed at reducing overcrowding in state prisons is likely the cause for increased crime countywide. Nonviolent, nonsexual, nonhabitual offenders now serve time in county jails.
“In the past … if we arrested somebody for a pretty significant narcotics violation or theft-related case they’re going to be in jail for a while,” Haley said. “The bail is high. But now, since the jails are full, if you commit a narcotics offense or some type of theft offense your chances of staying in jail the first time are very slim.
“So what we did before with one arrest now we have to do about three or four times,” he added. “But we’re up to the challenge. If we have to arrest you three or four times, we’re going to do that.”
Haley said his goal is to reduce property crime by 10 percent. “I think it’s attainable,” he said.
To do that, law enforcement officers are targeting prolific offenders, conducting probation parole sweeps and gang suppression operations and increasing narcotics enforcement.
The department also created a crime suppression team to concentrate on high-crime areas.
Crime prevention is another “incredibly important” component, Haley said. “We don’t want to cause paranoia in the public but we just want everyone to be smart.”
Haley urged people to not leave computers and other valuables on the front seat of their cars, which should always be locked. He also recommended not leaving expensive bikes outside.
“Coffee with the Community is a big thing for us,” he added. “It allows us to communicate. Sometimes we learn what we focus on is not really important to the community. It’s vital that we listen to what the community has to say.”
He said it helps form relationships so people are comfortable calling when there’s a problem.
Del Mar Councilwoman said residents often tell her about minor crimes but they don’t contact 911.
“We need to get people to call,” she said. “They’re not bothering you. This is helping other people that could be the victim.”
“Everything’s significant to us,” Haley said. “We encourage people to call. It is not a problem at all.”