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San Diego reports fewer major crimes

The news in the latest quarterly crime statistics released by the city of San Diego was good for both the city in general, and La Jolla in particular, showing marked decreases in most major categories.

Compared to April-June 2008-09, there were no murders either year in La Jolla, and the number of rapes reported fell from three to one, according to San Diego Police Department Northern Division Capt. Shelly Zimmerman.

She said the number of robberies reported went from six in 2008 to seven in 2009. The number of aggravated assaults, which includes domestic violence, was up, however, with 13 in 2008 compared to 23 in 2009.

“That’s a trend we’re seeing citywide,” Zimmerman said.

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Commercial burglaries in La Jolla fell from 30 in 2008 to 17 this year.

Zimmerman said larceny, thefts including car prowls, numbered 228 in 2008 and 172 in 2009. She said motor vehicle thefts were down to 29 this year in La Jolla from 35 in the same quarter the preceding year. The report on car prowls, one of La Jolla’s most prevalent crimes, was also good with 149 reported in 2008 compared to 124 this year.

“These numbers look really good,” Zimmerman noted.

Zimmerman suggested a decrease in the number of crimes reported in La Jolla for most categories may in part be attributed to the use of “saturation patrols.”

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“We saturate an area with lots of resources, looking for people either driving under the influence or committing other crimes,” she said.

The heightened police visibility not only acts as a deterrent, but allows for quicker response times in reacting to incidences like aggravated assaults in beach areas, she noted.

Children’s Pool in La Jolla continues to be a hot spot for altercations between people as the seesaw battle over the presence of harbor seals continues in the courts and legislature.

“We know this is an emotional issue for people,” said Zimmerman. “But we ask them to keep their emotions in check. There are appropriate ways of exercising your First Amendment rights without resorting to threats, intimidation or violence.”

Zimmerman said police will continue to closely monitor the situation at Children’s Pool and keep an open dialogue with the different sides.

“We (police) are completely neutral on this issue,” she said. “Public safety is paramount. We will not tolerate any threats, intimidation or violence.”

Crime stats were equally good for the year’s first half in the rest of San Diego.

“Crime in San Diego dropped 16.3 percent during the first six months of the year compared with the corresponding period in 2008,” Mayor Jerry Sanders announced last week in a press briefing.

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Over the first six months of 2009, the number of violent offenses was down 2.6 percent from that seen during the first two quarters of last year. Likewise, rape, robbery, murder and property crime decreased - by 10.1 percent, 8.8 percent, 7.7 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively - from Jan. 1 through June 30 this year, the mayor said.

The number of aggravated assaults, however, increased by 1.7 percent, and illegal activity attributed to gang members went up by 6.4 percent.

City News Service contributed to this report.