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Police Step Up Patrols in Response to Higher Rates of Crime in L.B.

July 25, 1985|ERIC BAILEY | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — Fueled by a hefty increase in burglaries, the number of reported crimes in the city rose 6% during the first half of 1985, police said this week.

Home burglaries jumped nearly 23% compared to the first six months of 1984, up from 2,981 to 3,658, while commercial burglaries went up 11.5%, from 647 to 722. The survey compares Jan. 1 to June 30, 1984, with the same period this year.

The number of homicides rose nearly 62%, from 21 last year to 34 in 1985. Assault increased about 13%, but grand theft dropped by 9% and robbery declined nearly 5%.

Major crimes, which as reported in police statistics include bicycle and petty theft, rose 4.7%. (See chart Page 18.)

Deputy Police Chief Charles Clark called the increase in burglaries "significant but not alarming," noting that annual totals had been declining since 1981, when 8,154 burglaries were reported.

Nonetheless, Clark said police have taken steps in recent weeks to halt any further increases by instigating "directed patrols" in areas plagued by burglaries. Some patrol units have been relieved of regular calls in order to more directly police the burglary problem, Clark said.

Among other steps, officers have begun conducting more field interviews of suspicious persons seen in areas of high crime, Clark said. Such interviews, Clark said, are the most common way for officers to apprehend crime suspects.

Clark said the increase in homicides could not be explained since murder generally is a crime of passion and is difficult to prevent through police work.

Fatal traffic accidents in the city jumped by 89%, from 18 in the first half of 1984 to 34 during the same period this year. Reported bicycle thefts rose 11% despite a police campaign since the beginning of the year to register bikes of school-aged children.

Police have taken steps, however, that they hope will curb the number of traffic fatalities on city streets, Clark said.

"Real vigorous traffic enforcement should put a dent in that," Clark said, noting that the number of citations issued by police in the city have increased 12% in recent weeks.

Nonetheless, Clark emphasized that the best way to prevent traffic fatalities or injury accidents is for drivers to take precautionary steps such as buckling seat belts, using proper infant-restraint seats when transporting children and not drinking before driving.

Reported crime rose in eight of the nine council districts. The only decrease came in Mayor Ernie Kell's 5th District, where crime dropped 1.7%, mostly because of a 21% drop in minor crimes such as bounced checks.

The biggest increases came in Councilman Wallace Edgerton's 2nd District, where reported crime jumped by 26%, and Councilman Thomas Clark's 4th District, where the crime rate jumped more than 20%.

In the 2nd District, home burglaries rose nearly 48%, from 401 during the first half of 1984 to 593 this year, while commercial burglaries jumped 58%, from 46 to 73. Assaults rose by 46%, from 39 to 57.

Sizable jumps in grand theft and home burglaries caused the increase in reported crime in the 4th District. Grand theft skyrocketed, up 65% from 49 in the first half of 1984 to 81 during the same period this year.

L.B. CRIME Chart compares statistics for major crimes as reported by the Long Beach Police Department for the period of Jan. 1 to June 30 in 1984 and 1985.

Crime 1st half 1st half % Diff. 1984 1985 Murder 21 34 +61.9 Manslaughter 1 1 Rape 111 112 +0.9 Robbery 1,294 1,232 -4.7 Assault 635 717 +12.9 Residential Burglary 2,981 3,658 +22.7 Commercial Burglary 647 722 +11.5 Auto Burglary 2,699 2,750 +1.8 Grand Theft 1,124 1,022 -9.0 Petty Theft 2,072 1,941 -6.3 Bicycle Theft 1,056 1,173 +11.0 Auto Theft 2,116 2,111 -0.2 Arson 95 83 -12.6 Total 14,852 15,556 +4.7

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