Reported crimes-per-1,000 residents up, but fourth-quarter arrests stop trend
By Sondra Murphy
The city of Ojai is known to be one of the safest communities in the county and 2009 data supports that claim.
Ojai Police Capt. Chris Dunn presented the 2009 crime and arrest statistics to the Ojai City Council Tuesday. The information contained in the report was compiled from Ventura County Sheriff’s crime analysis records, Ojai Police Department records and the California Highway Patrol traffic reporting systems.
Broken down into Part I Crimes and Part II Crimes, Dunn showed that little has changed in the city since the last report. He recommended viewing the figures critically because the numbers are so low that minor fluctuations can cause the percentages to jump drastically.
Part I crimes fall into two categories: crimes against persons — homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault —- and crimes against property — burglary, grand and petty theft, auto theft and arson.
In 2009, violent crimes against persons increased by two cases. This overall 13-percent increase consisted of an increase in rapes, from one to three, compared to 2008. As a stand-alone statistic, this means rapes increased by 200 percent.
Dunn said the number of robberies and aggravated assaults remained the same in 2009 and 2008, with three reported robberies and 11 reported aggravated assaults.
Reported property crimes also showed an increase. Residential burglaries increased by five, or 36 percent, over the previous year and petty thefts increased by 20 reports, or 23 percent. The number of felony thefts from automobiles decreased 71 percent, going from seven reports in 2008 to two reports in 2009.
“Since the early ‘90s, we’ve been on a downward trend,” said Dunn about total reported crimes. “All year long, I’ve been telling you about vehicle thefts. It went up 189 percent.” This figure came from a total of 78 reported thefts from vehicle in 2009 compared to 27 in 2008. “It took us until the last quarter to get enough evidence to make arrests and, since then, our numbers have been virtually nothing. So we hit the right crew.”
Part II crimes are made up of all other classifications and showed a 17-percent decrease in 2009. “The most significant decrease was in the area of vandalism and we attribute that to our aggressive gang efforts,” Dunn said. “Our gang unit is hyper-sensitive to the gang problem.” He said that even though the gang-related murder of 16-year-old Seth Scarminach last April took place outside of city limits, the resulting increase in gang unit officers seems to have impacted overall gang activity.