Seal Beach crime down 15 percent so far in 2018

Table by Robert Goldberg

From January 2018 through August, Part 1 crime in Seal Beach dropped 15 percent compared to the same time period in 2017. This according to a compilation of the monthly crime statistics published in the Sun.

As has been previously reported in the Sun, 2017 was a particularly bad year for crime in Seal Beach with Part 1 crime rising to a 21-year high. Part 1 crime is an FBI-defined set of serious and/or common crimes that are likely to be reported to police. They range from homicide to theft of any amount.

“While we are encouraged by the information, we feel it would be premature to draw any conclusions regarding the year-to-date comparison,” Sgt. Michael Henderson of the Seal Beach Police Department said in a statement. Sgt. Henderson said the department usually waits until the end of the calendar year to analyze and make comparisons about year-to-year crime trends because there is often an increase in crime during the holiday season.

Additionally, Sgt. Henderson noted “we are still dealing with an overall increase in crime since the passage of Proposition 47 (in 2014).”

So far this year, Part 1 crime is tracking 18 percent higher than in 2014. One of several judicial reform measures enacted since 2011, Prop 47 reduced the penalty for possession of drugs for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor, and raised the dollar amount for misdemeanor theft to $950.

Many professionals in the public safety community have been concerned that these changes would lead to a rise in property crime. These concerns were recently supported by a June 2018 research report from the independent Public Policy Research Institute of California.

The PPIC found that while Prop 47 had no impact on burglaries or auto thefts, it may have contributed to a roughly 9 percent rise in larceny-thefts in California compared to other states from 2014 to 2016. About three-quarters of this increase was due to thefts from motor vehicles.

In Seal Beach, there were 174 thefts from motor vehicles (locked and unlocked) in 2017, a 30 percent increase compared to 2014.

This sub-category represented 35 percent of all thefts in 2017. (Source: “Monthly Return of Offenses Known to the Police,” Seal Beach public record request 18-4.)

On Nov. 13, 2017, the City Council budgeted for two additional police officers after hearing concerns from the public and the presentation by the SBPD of very alarming year-to-date crime statistics. Recruitment and pre-employment background, medical, and psychosocial screening ensued with two officers being hired on Aug. 13, 2018.