Crime rate down

Numbers particularly low in DM, SB

San Diego County is experiencing a 25-year low in crime rates, and Solana Beach and Del Mar continue to enjoy some of the fewest incidents of crimes within the region.

“All in all, both are very safe communities,” said Jeffrey Vandersip, a crime analyst with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Overall, crime decreased in Del Mar, which includes the Del Mar Fairgrounds, from 235 violent and property crimes in 2007 to 187 in 2008, or about 15 crimes per month.

Larceny was the No. 1 crime in Del Mar with 107 thefts from cars, shops or people, a significant drop from 2006 when there were 190 such thefts. About 17 percent of property crimes occurred at the fairgrounds.

Another big drop was in car thefts, which were cut in half in both Del Mar and Solana Beach.

“It’s a joint effort between the city, residents, businesses and the sheriff’s department,” Captain Don Fowler said of the decreases.

While the numbers are still relatively low, crime increased in Solana Beach from 297 violent and property crimes in 2007 to 352 in 2008 - or almost a crime a day.

The number one crime in Solana Beach was also larceny, which is often a crime of opportunity, Fowler said. To minimize these opportunities, lock car doors, don’t leave anything of value visible in the car and close garage doors, he advised.

“The key is people to be more aware so they will not be victimized,” Fowler said.

Aggravated assault and burglaries accounted for the majority of the crime increase in 2008, including a string of smash and grabs last spring. City and sheriff worked with retailers to make their businesses less attractive to thieves, said City Manager David Ott.

“We are very satisfied with the Sheriff’s response,” Ott said. “I think it’s paid off.”

Crime has also decreased in Solana Beach since the start of 2009. There were 55 crimes in the first three months of 2009 compared with 81 in the same quarter in 2008.

Del Mar rates were about the same; there were 27 crimes in the first quarter of 2008 and 30 the first quarter 2009.

However, Fowler said he is worried crime will increase with the economic downturn and encouraged residents to take extra precautions, start neighborhood watch groups and call the sheriff’s department at (760) 966-3500 if they see anything suspicious.