Motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault, and arson all saw at least double-digit increases in Citrus Heights during 2016, while robbery and homicides saw double-digit drops, according to the latest annual crime report delivered to council members by Police Chief Ron Lawrence earlier this month.
The annual report used crime data from “Part 1” of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which tracks eight categories of crimes that are broken down into property crimes and persons crimes. Property crimes include burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, and persons crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
Part 2 crimes are considered less serious and are only required to be reported if there is an arrest, according to the FBI’s website.
Largest local increases in crime were in the motor vehicle theft category, which rose 39 percent in the year-over-year comparison presented. Arson cases also more than doubled, rising from six in 2015 up to a total of 16 last year, while robbery dropped by 22 percent and homicides dropped from five in 2015 down to three last year, according to the report.
The homicide category of the UCR statistics does not typically include officer-involved shootings, since the FBI tabulates such shootings as “justifiable homicides,” after a law enforcement investigation. As reported in an extensive story in The Sacramento Bee on March 12, Citrus Heights had one homicide involving a police shooting in 2015, and two in 2016.
Lawrence, who replaced former Police Chief Christopher Boyd in October last year, highlighted “deficiencies” in year-over-year comparisons, as did several council members who focused on a 10-year crime trend showing categories of major crime are at one of their lowest points in the history of the police department, which was formed in 2006. From 2006 to 2016, Lawrence reported an overall drop in Part 1 crimes by 22 percent.
“I think the citizens are 100 percent behind you,” Mayor Jeff Slowey told the police chief after hearing the March 9 report. “So even when there’s a little blip on the radar that doesn’t always look good, everyone’s always out there doing their best.”
Councilman Bret Daniels called the crime statistics “a little disappointing that there’s even a slight little spike,” but he said “it could mean that we just did better last year.”
Daniels also questioned the chief about the significant rise in vehicle theft and asked what could be done in response. Lawrence said such thefts are “up all over the state” and said vehicle thefts notably rose after prison realignment in 2011, which is often blamed for releasing prisoners on the streets.
According to Lt. Jason Russo, the department plans to launch a theft prevention program targeted at Honda owners to encourage use of a steering wheel lock. He said 90’s model Honda’s are the most commonly stolen vehicles, with thieves often stealing the cars using shaved keys.
*This story originally appeared in The Sentinel’s March 19 e-Edition. Read part two of this article in our upcoming March 26 edition for additional statistics and a look at CHPD’s crime reduction strategies. Click here to sign up for our Weekend e-Edition