Overall Crime Decreases, But Car Theft Increases In Bel-Air And Rancho Park

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Overall crime has decreased by 11% during the pandemic compared to last year, but car thieves are driving numbers up in communities such as Bel-Air and Rancho Park, according to a report released today.

Data from the Los Angeles Police Department -- complied in a report by Crosstown, a nonprofit news organization -- showed that the overall number of criminal incidents from January through November was down, but Bel-Air has topped the list of Los Angeles neighborhoods that actually saw a spike in crime.

Bel-Air recorded 235 crimes in the first 11 months of the year, a nearly 41% increase over the 167 incidents during the same time in 2019.

There were 40 burglaries in the neighborhood during the first 11 months of the year, up from 24 during the same period last year. Bel-Air also registered 40 reports of breaking into a vehicle, an increase from 18 last year. Police tallied 21 instances of trespassing and 19 reports of stolen vehicles.

The increase in crime has led to community outreach, including a Dec. 2 Zoom meeting in which police showed a video depicting how quickly a thief can break into a car.

Another community that has seen an increase in crime is Rancho Park, near Palms and Cheviot Hills. Despite Rancho Park recording the fourth-fewest number of crimes of any city neighborhood, according to LAPD data, the 207 incidents in the first 11 months of 2020 mark a 6% increase from the 195 reports during the same time last year. Burglary from homes and vehicles, along with stolen cars, were the most frequent crimes in Rancho Park.

LAPD Capt. Paul Vernon said car thefts are up across the city, with the spike starting in mid-April.

City officials said thieves have taken advantage of vehicles sitting idle on the streets for long periods as people drive less during the coronavirus.

Vernon also said reducing bail amounts have allowed suspects to avoid detention, contributing to the increase.

“Car thieves saw open season to steal cars, many sitting unused due to COVID,'' Vernon said. “Being released without posting any bail, many thieves stole multiple cars in a day or week.''

Other neighborhoods have seen statistically significant drops in crime this year, though the sheer number of incidents vastly exceeds reports in communities such as Bel-Air and Rancho Park.

For example, crime in downtown Los Angeles fell 15% from January to November, though the densely packed area has still recorded 11,291 incidents.

Additional communities with a large percentage decrease -- but a sizable number of crimes -- include Hollywood, where the year-to-year drop stands at 16%, though the community has recorded more than 6,000 crimes.

Photo: Getty Images

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