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Crime Drops, but Violence on Increase

February 28, 1991|ROD WADE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Following a nationwide trend, violent crime in Glendale rose 26% last year over 1989, mainly because of significant increases in robberies and assaults, according to Police Department statistics released Monday.

Police also reported a dramatic increase in the use of firearms, particularly among gang members.

Despite the rise in violent crime, the incidents of burglaries and car thefts were down, accounting for an overall drop in crime of 4.7%.

Homicides and forcible rapes also were down. There were four fewer homicides last year compared to 1989 for a 57% decrease and 17 fewer forcible rapes for a 31.5% decrease.

Sgt. Pete Michael, Police Department spokesman, attributed the overall decrease in crime to heightened public awareness as a result of the department's successful Neighborhood Watch and public information programs.

"Our crime-prevention unit shows people how not to get things stolen," Michael said. "This creates better awareness in the community for both property crimes and violent crime."

Statistics showed a 10.4% drop in the number of reported thefts in 1990. Motor-vehicle thefts were down 6.9%, while residential burglaries dropped 15.7%.

The number of robberies rose 44.6%, and assaults were up 22.5%. The largest statistical change was a 60.5% increase in the use of firearms during assaults.

Michael said the increased use of weapons is most significant among gang members. He said a gang task force established two years ago is confiscating "a significant number of firearms" not only from gang members but from growing numbers of people who are carrying these weapons with them.

Sgt. Don Meredith of the department's gang task force said the increasing use of weapons is a common problem throughout Los Angeles County.

"People tend to forget that we're the third largest city in the county, so weapons come from all over," Meredith said. "It's not uncommon for firearms to be found by our people in robbery and by officers out on the street. So it's not just gangs. It's a universal problem."

Michael said weapons are increasingly being used during robberies, especially those that occur on the street. These types of crimes include armed theft from motorists, pedestrians and automated teller users. The high increase in robberies can be attributed primarily to a 49% increase in these crimes, which the department calls highway robberies, Michael said.

Sgt. Robert MacLeod, the department's supervisor for crime prevention, said that despite the increase in violent crimes, the statistics indicate his department is achieving its goal of reducing property crimes, including residential burglaries and car thefts.

"Our recent thrust, in the past year, has been in helping prevent residential burglaries, and we've seen a reduction in these crimes," MacLeod said.

"I feel that we're doing really well from this big push, but it's also due to the citizens," MacLeod said. "We encourage them to improve the security of their homes and cars and to report these crimes, which they are."

Compared to crime statistics in other communities with populations over 100,000, Michael said, Glendale still remains one of the safest cities in California.

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