Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ojai City Crime Report Shows Mixed News

Felony assaults drop in the first half of year, but Ojai crime rate highest in county

By Daryl Kelley
Serious crime in Ojai continued at last year’s high level during the first half of 2007 as thefts and residential burglaries increased again, but criminal violence fell as felony assaults were down more than half, according to a new police report.
“The news is mixed,” city manager Jere Kersnar said Wednesday. “But I think there has been progress, because I worry most about (violent) crimes, and those are down.”
There were 148 major crimes in Ojai from January through June, up nine offenses compared with the same six months last year, the Sheriff’s Department reported this week.
That follows a sharp hike last year, when crime in Ojai reached its highest level since 1995. Still, violent crime was down from 11 to eight for the first half of this year.
“Except for an increase of 12 thefts from last year, this report shows no alarming pattern,” wrote Sheriff’s Capt. Bruce Norris, who serves as Ojai’s police chief, in a report to Kersnar. “Detectives and patrol deputies continue to work to reduce thefts. Recent significant arrests of local thieves and drug users have curbed the thefts somewhat from the first three months of this year.”
The biggest spike was in grand theft, which is defined as a loss of property worth $400 or more. That more serious theft increased from 18 to 26, while petty theft was up from 84 to 89, and home burglaries climbed from two to seven.
In his report, Norris noted the same trends that prompted a dramatic increase in crime last year, the theft of valuables from cars and citizens’ relaxed attitude about securing their property.
“Theft from vehicles, theft of bicycles and theft of landscape equipment account for many of our theft cases,” Norris reported.
Kersnar said thieves had been particularly active in parking lots.
“There have been break-ins at trailheads,” he said. “People leave valuables on their seats when they go hiking, and that’s not a good practice.”
Conversely, the actual theft of autos and trucks were down from five to three and burglaries of businesses were down from 19 to 15.
The best news in the report was that aggravated assaults — a telltale sign of gang activity — dropped from nine for the first six months of 2006 to four this year. A spate of gang-related violence prompted the conviction of a dozen youths last year.
But a new sheriff’s anti-gang unit began operations this spring in western Ventura County, including the Ojai Valley, and authorities credit that with a sharp reduction in assaults. The most serious gang-related violence locally this year was a drive-by shooting in February, when a shooter from out of town wounded an east Ojai resident.
“In my opinion, a decrease in gang-related incidents has helped to keep that (assault) number down,” Norris wrote.
Overall, violent offenses fell by three, with no murders, one rape, four felony assaults and three robberies. The robbery number was up from one for all of 2006 to three for the first six months of this year.
“There seems to be an overlap from the increase in thefts to the robberies,” Kersnar said. “I know there are drug issues here, and I presume there is some relationship.”
When all eight serious property and violent crimes for Ojai are taken together, the number of crimes per resident — or crime rate — increased 7 percent for the first half of the year, from 17.06 to 18.20.
That’s more than twice as high as the overall crime rate for all five cities and the unincorporated area that the Sheriff’s Department patrols. By comparison, Moorpark had a crime rate of 6.86 crimes per resident, Thousand Oaks 8.59, Camarillo 9.27 and Fillmore 11.0 .


Anonymous said...

You say crime is somewhat down, but this crime never should of been allowed to start. this is ojai valley and long ago the people would not of put up with this but now that the gangs control our beautiful Ojai, and has been allowed to control the schools and town long before this. 0 tolorence should been, stop the mexican gangs now. they have hurt our homes long enough.

Anonymous said...

you are forgetting the white-supremecist gang(s)!