Serious crimes down, some others see slight jump | May 31, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - May 31, 2013

Serious crimes down, some others see slight jump

Theft and auto thefts both increase

by Glenn Wohltmann

Crime had a slight uptick in Pleasanton last year, largely because of thefts, and auto thefts in particular.

Both thefts and auto thefts climbed in 2012, with a category called larceny/theft going from 951 in 2011 to 998 last year, and auto thefts spiking from 85 to 119, according to the Pleasanton Police Department's annual report.

Violent crimes continue to trend downward, though, with 49 of the most serious crimes -- homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery -- reported in 2012. That's the lowest number in five years.

There was one homicide last year: 13-year-old daughter Ainsley Freeman died at the hands of her mother, who then took her own life at their home on Stacey Court. That occurred May 7.

Another homicide, that of a young woman whose body was found inside a trash can along Dublin Canyon Road on May 24, did not occur in Pleasanton and wasn't included in the annual report. After months of investigation, the woman was identified as Ana Flores-Pineda, 25, of Stockton; Javier Prado Sandoval, 30, also from Stockton, was arrested for the slaying. Stockton police Officer Joe Silva said the two had a relationship and the motive was domestic violence.

Not counting the single homicide, every other one of the serious crime categories either remained the same or dropped.

There were four reported rapes in Pleasanton last year, a rate that's been steady since 2008, when six rapes were reported. Rape is a broad category covering both violent sexual assaults and sex with someone who has not reached the age of consent; studies show many women do not report sexual assaults, so it is impossible to determine if the numbers reported are accurate.

"All we can report is what's reported to us," said Pleasanton police Capt. Craig Eicher.

The number of aggravated assaults and robberies have dropped, and both have generally decreased over the last five years.

Aggravated assaults are more serious than simple assaults and generally a weapon is used. There were 26 aggravated assaults in Pleasanton last year, down from 31 in 2011 and nearly half of the 51 reported in 2009. The number has been dropping steadily since.

Robbery requires the use of force or a threat of force. There were 18 robberies in Pleasanton in 2012, down from 26 in 2011 and the lowest number in the last five years.

There were 1,287 property crimes in 2012, according to the report. Property crimes include arson, auto thefts, burglaries and larceny/theft -- a category that includes shoplifting, theft from autos, grand thefts and certain types of fraud, Eicher said.

Motor vehicle theft made the biggest jump, from 85 in 2011 to 119 in 2012.

"It has been going up and that's something we've been looking at," Eicher said. "The interesting fact is that when auto thefts go up, our auto theft recoveries go up as well."

Eicher said some auto thefts may be from gang-related groups outside the area.

"They may steal a car in San Jose, drop that off and and steal a car here, then go back to San Jose," Eicher said, although he noted he was just using San Jose as an example.

"Most of the time, it's either joyriding or they're using a car to commit a crime," he explained, such as shoplifting from the mall, where they might not want their car seen.

Larceny/thefts are up, too, from 951 to 998, but still down from a high of 1,188 in 2008. Police have said the majority of felony thefts take place at Stoneridge Shopping Center.

In 2012, 149 adults -- 103 females and 46 males -- were arrested for thefts, large and small, at the mall, as were 111 juveniles -- 66 females and 45 males. The number of arrests for each was up from 2011, when 98 juveniles and 133 adults were arrested for thefts.

The report says there has not been a statistical increase in crime at the mall since the BART station opened there.

Last year at the mall, 32 adults -- 13 females and 19 males -- were arrested for other offenses, and six juveniles -- four females and two males -- were arrested for other crimes.

"What we're showing is at the mall the vast majority of our offenses are theft-related," Eicher said.

The number of property crimes is up from 1,223 in 2011, but lower than any of the five years included in the report.

The number of burglaries dropped from 182 in 2011 to 165 last year, the fewest since 2009, when 136 were reported, and the second lowest in the last five years.

The number of arsons has remained relatively consistent over the last five years, with five reported in 2012, 2011 and 2009. Six arsons were reported in 2010, and there were four reports in 2008.

Pleasanton police also show a higher clearance rate -- the number of crimes solved -- than both the state and national averages.

"We actually do relatively well between the national and the state," Eicher said. "Law enforcement agency clearance rates (in California) are approximately 27%. When you look at the federal level, it's down to 22-24% annually."

Pleasanton police cleared about 31% of serious crimes, which include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny/theft, auto theft and arson.

"I think we're very effective at resolving cases," Eicher said. "We're very effective at investigating criminal cases, which results in a higher-than-average clearance rate for the Pleasanton Police Department."

The department cleared 77% of the aggravated assault cases reported last year, and 56% of the robberies and 50% of rapes reported in 2012, although it did not clear any of the five arsons reported, and its clearance rate for burglaries is 9%. The clearance rate is down slightly from 2011, when it was 33% and also down from its recent peak, in 2010, when 39% of its cases were cleared.

Also down slightly is the department's response time for emergency calls. It dropped from 4 minutes to 4:07, but its overall response time, including non-emergency calls, dropped to 18:40 from 20:03 in 2011.

The rate of serious crimes has seen a nearly steady decline over the last 20 years or so, with a peak in 1994 of 39.8 crimes per 1,000 population. It now stands at 18.7 per 1,000, less than half of 1994, although up slightly from 2011, when there were 18.2 serious crimes per 1,000.

2012 serious crimes compared to surrounding cities

Pleasanton Dublin Livermore San Ramon

Population 71,269 46,785 82,400 74,378

Homicide 1 0 1 0

Rape 4 4 13 3

Aggravated assault 26 59 254 29

Robbery 18 20 32 13

Burglary 165 138 310 147

Larceny/theft 998* 530 1,319 633

Motor vehicle theft 119 54 176 70

Arson 5 7 8 9

Totals 1,336 812 2,113 904

*309 of 998 (31%) of larceny/thefts occurred at Stoneridge Shopping Center


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