Auto theft climbs to 10-year high

DOWNEY - Auto thefts continue to plague the city of Downey, and last year the number of stolen vehicles reached at least a 10-year high, according to statistics released by the Downey Police Department last week.Figures show that 1,231 vehicles were stolen in Downey during 2008. That's a jump from 1,033 thefts in 2007. The statistics were part of the FBI Crime Index and included in the Downey Police Department's 2008 Annual Report, released to the media last week. The report includes local crime statistics going back a decade. Auto thefts have been steadily increasing since 2000, when a relatively low 811 vehicles were reported stolen. The number rose to 999 in 2001, and has not dipped below 1,000 since. The Downey Police Department did not return a call seeking comment on the statistics. Other crimes The report does, however, show decreases in robberies (from 288 in 2007 to 252 last year), aggravated assaults (208 to 172), and acts of larceny and theft (2,173 to 2,038). The number of reported rapes rose from 17 in 2007 to 24 last year, and burglaries jumped from 669 to 711. Murders stayed even with three homicides last year. The city's dispatch center received 34,733 calls for 911 emergency service in 2008, and fielded an additional 137,000 non-emergency calls. A total of 4,347 people were arrested, with 3,281 being adults. The report shows 14,625 reports were processed by police. Traffic Police officers issued 15,536 citations for moving violations (speeding, etc.) last year, down from 17,191 the previous year. But 25,867 citations for non-moving violations, such as parking tickets, signified a jump from the 23,630 issued in 2007. Downey saw three fatal traffic collisions last year, the lowest tally in four years. Reports of hit-and-run collisions hit 264, up from 233. Other data The report also notes an investigation last year "concerning a large scale drug organization operating within our city." The investigation, conducted jointly with the Drug Enforcement Agency, led to 32 arrests and the seizure of 129 pounds of heroin that carried an estimated street value of more than $7 million. •The Downey Police Department worked with surrounding agencies to conduct probation searches on people who had previously been convicted of graffiti-related crimes. "In all, over 200 individuals were contacted and several arrests were made." •The department conducted 113 background checks on potential employees, resulting in 23 new hires, including 18 as police officers. •Forensics specialists recovered 436 latent prints from Downey crime scenes and identified 83 suspects using fingerprints. •New weight and cardiovascular machines were installed in the police department's gym, which replaced equipment originally purchased in 1984. The gym also received new rubber flooring, fresh paint and a stereo system. . •Last October, the department switched to a three-day, 12 1/2 hour work week. Police officers previously worked four-day, 10-hour weeks. •The department introduced a new police cadet program last year. The program offers qualified candidates a part-time job "that will train them in the various aspects of police work." Cadets must be enrolled at a school full-time and maintain a 2.0 GPA. •Code Enforcement responded to 2,116 cases in 2008. They also assisted officials from the Secret Service and IRS who were investigating a crime ring "responsible for over $2 billion in fraudulent gain involving identity theft and real estate fraud." Twelve people were arrested.

********** Published: July 3, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 11