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Homicides Up 25% in Southeast Area : 234 Slain in '84; Other Violent Crimes Stable While Property Assaults Drop

January 27, 1985|DAVID JEFFERSON | Times Staff Writer

There were 234 homicides in the Southeast area in 1984, an increase of 25% over 1983 figures. But the increase does not reflect an overall jump in violent crime, according to statistics gathered from 15 area police and sheriff's stations.

While the number of murders in the area went up 47 from the 187 reported in 1983, the number of violent crimes was almost stable. Assaults decreased nearly 8% to 8,212 incidents during the year, and rape dropped more than 6% to 703 incidents. Robberies, however, rose 7.2% to 6,249 incidents.

In line with a nationwide decrease that began more than three years ago, overall crime (which includes both crimes against people and crimes against property) fell 4.5% in the Southeast area.

Capt. William Hinkle, spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said it is difficult to explain "why homicide is on the rise. We have not noticed a significant increase in gang-related murders, but all types of murder have increased."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday February 3, 1985 Home Edition Long Beach Part 9 Page 2 Column 4 Zones Desk 2 inches; 53 words Type of Material: Correction
In the Jan. 27 Southeast/Long Beach sections, 1983 and 1984 crime statistics for the city of South Gate were transposed. The correct figures follow.
SOUTH GATE (68,000)
Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 8 5 -37.5 Rape 37 26 -29.7 Robbery 277 282 +1.8 Assault 424 429 +1.2 Burglary 1,152 1,092 -5.2 Theft 1,453 1,494 +2.8 Auto Theft 566 577 +1.9 Arson N/A N/A N/A Total 3,917 3,905 -0.3
GRAPHIC-TABLE: Crime statistics for South Gate

Hinkle called homicide a crime that is difficult to predict, and as a result "extremely difficult to prevent." During the past few years there has been an increase in murder between strangers, he said, adding that previously most homicides occurred between acquaintances or family members.

He pointed out that with most other crimes police can implement preventive-action programs that bring results.

In Lynwood, for example, the number of rapes fell sharply, from 101 in 1983 to 51 in 1984, a fact that Lt. Frank Vaduro of the Lynwood sheriff's station attributes to the Block Watch Clubs his department has set up.

"During the last year we have gone into the neighborhoods and held meetings where we show people films and hand out literature about how to avoid being raped and what to do if you are raped," Vaduro said.

Hinkle noted that the seven sheriff's stations in the Southeast area have implemented "directed patrol" programs to target areas of their cities that have the highest reported crime rate. Success has been mixed.

Though robbery (categorized as a violent crime) increased 7.2% in the Southeast area, crimes against property were down, with auto theft falling 8.2% and both burglary and theft dropping about 4.5%.

Arson, which was up almost 30% during the first six months of 1984 compared to the same period in 1983, showed almost no change at year's end, with 719 arsons in 1984 and 720 in 1985.

The Firestone sheriff's station showed a 32.1% rise in arson during the year, but Sgt. Phillip Yow insisted that the increase does not indicate a trend in the area.

"There's no explanation for rises in arson," Yow said, adding that arson, like homicide, is "a crime of passion. In one recent incident I can think of, some people dealing in narcotics set fire to a guy's business as a way of revenge."

In line with the decrease in overall crime in the Southeast area, the Pico Rivera sheriff's station reported the greatest drop in crime, down 12.7% from 1983. The most significant decreases were in theft, which fell 20%, and assault, which dropped more than 30%. However, homicides increased, from 4 in 1983 to 10 in 1984.

James Valdez, operations sergeant for the Pico Rivera station, attributed the decrease in crime to his station's Gang Suppression Team, which has kept a close watch on gangs in the area to reduce related crime.

"Gang violence seems to be down in all areas around here," Valdez said. "Obviously, as you can see from our stats, the team is doing quite an excellent job."

Sgt. William Winn of the Lynwood sheriff's station said that budget cuts had forced his station to become "more innovative in our patrolling techniques," in part leading to an 8.2% decrease in crime.

"You just have to tighten your belt and get the job done," he said.

Total crimes rose in Bell, Compton, Cudahy and Downey, with Bell and Cudahy showing the greatest increases.

Crime in Cudahy jumped 31.6%, with a 16% rise in burglary. In Bell, overall crime rose 10.4%.

Chief Frank Fording of the Bell-Cudahy Police Department said he did not know why overall crime in the two cities had increased. He maintained that gang-related crime in his area has actually gone down.

He added that, in Cudahy, the sharp increase in reported thefts results in part from a local retailer increasing its private security and making numerous arrests.

1983-84 Southeast-Area Crime Statistics

BELL (26,000)

Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 5 3 -40.0 Rape 6 7 +16.7 Robbery 102 133 +30.4 Assault 59 64 +8.5 Burglary 467 524 +12.2 Theft 339 358 +5.6 Auto Theft 159 162 +1.9 Arson 4 9 +125.0 Total 1,141 1,260 +10.4

BELL GARDENS (35,000)

Crime 1983 1984 %Diff. Homicide 5 7 +40.0 Rape 13 18 +38.5 Robbery 93 129 +38.7 Assault 308 344 +ll.7 Burglary 918 634 -30.9 Theft 693 703 +1.4 Auto Theft 178 168 -5.6 Arson N/A N/A N/A Total 2,208 2,003 -9.3

COMPTON (80,000)

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