Authorities continue to warn about 'crimes of opportunity'

Overall crime in Encinitas, Del Mar and Solana Beach was down or stayed about the same in 2017 compared to 2016, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department North Coastal Station.

However, Captain John Maryon warns that the cities' top problems — property thefts and burglaries — have persisted since he joined the department in 1996.

Maryon said such "crimes of opportunity" can stem from people leaving their garages open or leaving items on their car seats, for example. Most property theft or burglary suspects are from out of town, he added.

"Criminals know this is a more affluent area, so there's going to be more valuables in garages or sitting in car seats," he said, adding that someone stealing from a garage in any capacity is burglarizing the property. "Maybe in another town they might not have had a $7,000 Louis Vuitton sitting on a passenger seat. That makes for a quick window smash."

As a way to remedy the problem, the captain recommended residents and business owners look into alarm systems that immediately alert the authorities, rather than ones that first alert the alarm companies then the authorities.

In Encinitas, the number of calls for burglaries increased by 18 occurrences, theft decreased by 127 occurrences and auto theft decreased by 12 occurrences, according to a sheriff’s report written in mid-December and acquired by the Union-Tribune Community Press.

In Del Mar, the number of calls for burglaries decreased by 14 occurrences, theft decreased by two occurrences and auto theft remained the same.

In Solana Beach, the number of calls for burglaries increased by three occurrences, theft increased by three occurrences and auto theft decreased by one occurrence.

Maryon explained the calls for burglaries in the cities included a combination of commercial and residential thefts.

“Commercial burglaries have increased,” he said. “We started a loss prevention working group with the large box stores in Encinitas, so that should help reduce them.”

Calls for violent crime — including homicide, rape, robberies and aggravated assaults — was up by five total occurrences in Encinitas, up by one occurrence in Del Mar and down by four occurrences in Solana Beach.

The captain said the lower crime in Encinitas — particularly downtown — can be attributed to a sheriff's substation near the La Paloma Theatre that opened earlier in 2017.

He said the addition of the substation, as well as ridesharing programs like Lyft and Uber, have also contributed to the reduction of DUIs and public intoxication.

"It's getting better, but obviously we're not past it since we've had a couple hit-and-run crashes that involved possible alcohol," he said.

Maryon said he is thankful that crime has been down overall, even with the number of people that visited the cities over the year.

"The City of Encinitas last year estimated that one million extra people visited their beaches," he said. "That's a lot of people to add into a city of 64,000. I think Del Mar may have estimated another three million that came in through their area, which do trickle into Solana Beach and Encinitas as well. It's a lot of people, but we've been pretty fortunate to keep crime down and get the word out."

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