Theories abound as Claremont sees spike in crime

Crime in Claremont rose in nearly every category in 2015, according to a new report from the Claremont Police Department.

The report from Chief Paul Cooper states that the city experienced a 17 percent increase in total Part I crimes reported—1,050 in 2015, compared to 898 in 2014. Part I crimes include homicide, robbery, rape, assault, burglary, theft, auto theft and arson. The city saw a 64 percent increase in crimes against persons—64 in 2015 versus 39 in 2014—and a 15 percent increase in property crimes—986 in 2015 versus 859 in 2014—according to the report.

The increase may startle some, but Mr. Cooper stressed in the report that, “it’s important to recognize that Claremont’s overall low crime rate lends itself to what can appear to be very dramatic increases or decreases in crime.”

When divided by Part I crimes, the city noted an increase in every category except robbery and arson. There was one homicide in 2015, compared to none in 2014; 12 rapes in 2015, compared to four in 2014; 36 assaults in 2015, compared to 18 in 2014; 249 burglaries in 2015, compared to 205 in 2014; 674 thefts in 2015, compared to 607 in 2014; and 62 auto thefts in 2015, compared to 41 in 2014.

Robberies decreased by one, with 15 in 2015, compared to 16 in 2014. The number of arsons fell from six in 2014 to one in 2015, according to the report.

Property crimes amounted to 94 percent of overall crime in Claremont throughout the last year, the report says. Bicycle thefts at the Claremont Colleges make up a sizable chunk of property crimes in the city, with an 81 percent jump in bikes stolen from the campuses—147 in 2015, versus 81 in 2013.

Bait bikes deployed by the police have worked, but according to Mr. Cooper, it will take some time to deter the number of thefts on campus.

Overall, the Colleges saw a 40 percent drop in crimes against persons and a nine percent hike in property crimes.

Thefts from unlocked vehicles have also dramatically risen in the past few years, with a total increase of 137 percent from 2013—41 in 2013 versus 97 in 2015. Residential burglaries dropped slightly in 2014 from 2013 numbers, but increased in 2015 by eight percent—167 in 2015 versus 154 in 2014, according to the report. In fact, Mr. Cooper states that thefts from unlocked vehicles have surpassed car break-ins in Claremont.

The rise in overall crime is the first increase since 2012, when overall crime rose by seven percent. The number of crimes reported, 1,050, is the highest since 2008, when 1,146 crimes were reported.

The report states the city is working with local groups, including Keeping Good in the Neighborhood and the Claremont Crime Prevention Coalition, to get the word out that Claremonters should lock their vehicles and prevent theft.

“Unfortunately, the message still seems slow in getting out,” Mr. Cooper writes in the report.

Proposition 47, which in part changed non-violent felonies to misdemeanors, was pointed out in the report as a possible cause for the uptick in crime. Under the proposition, non-violent felonies regarding drugs and theft were reduced to misdemeanors with a focus on treatment as opposed to incarceration.

Claremont is not the only city in the region to experience an increase in crime. The city of Los Angeles experienced a rise in all Part I categories in 2015 for the first time in over a decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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