Property crimes low, worries still high

Transients, theft, reckless driving, vandalism/graffiti, and illegal dumping

A Clairemont resident took this photo of a known neighborhood thief before and after he cased neighborhood mailboxes.
  • A Clairemont resident took this photo of a known neighborhood thief before and after he cased neighborhood mailboxes.

San Diego is one of the safest regions in the U.S. according to a report released by the county in April. Data from 2017 reflects the fourth-lowest violent crime rate since 1980 and the lowest property crime rate ever. This report was released on the heels of a brand new neighborhood policing division formed in March.

One Pacific Beach resident said the new neighborhood policing division is already paying dividends with the quick removal and clean-up of a homeless encampment along Rose Creek in May (before and after photo).

One Pacific Beach resident said the new neighborhood policing division is already paying dividends with the quick removal and clean-up of a homeless encampment along Rose Creek in May (before and after photo).

I surveyed city council offices, planning group members, social media, and individual residents about what they hope from the new division.

Overwhelmingly, transients were mentioned most often. Theft, reckless driving, vandalism/graffiti, and illegal dumping/litter came up next most often.

A Tierrasanta resident said reckless driving has been the number-one complaint; cars and motorcycles race down Tierrasanta Boulevard and Clairemont Mesa Boulevard late at night.

To the news that her neighborhood had no more homeless people, one Midway resident said, "I count at least thirty on my way to get coffee every morning."

To the news that her neighborhood had no more homeless people, one Midway resident said, "I count at least thirty on my way to get coffee every morning."

According to Scott Wahl, captain of the new policing division, concerns will be addressed neighborhood-by-neighborhood. Wahl said since his officers won't be answering radio calls, it will allow more flexibility in addressing chronic concerns. The entire division has the option of focusing on one issue or one neighborhood on any given day.

Even though illegal dumping/littering was a top-five concern city-wide, police data showed only 26 reported incidents last summer.

Even though illegal dumping/littering was a top-five concern city-wide, police data showed only 26 reported incidents last summer.

One Pacific Beach resident said the new division is paying dividends with the quick removal and clean-up of a homeless encampment along Rose Creek (Mission Bay) in May.

A decrease of 19-percent in the city's homeless population was reported in May from the count done in January. The census tract (65) for the Midway District (Point Loma) counted zero homeless people. To this, one Midway resident said, "I count at least thirty on my way to get coffee every morning."

Theft was the second most mentioned concern. Armed suspect from February robbery downtown.

Theft was the second most mentioned concern. Armed suspect from February robbery downtown.

An Allied Gardens resident called transients "more prominent than ever," while a North Park resident lamented the messes they leave behind making it embarrassing to invite guests to her neighborhood. San Ysidro residents are concerned with transient-related loitering and littering, while Point Loma residents are more concerned about aggressive transients. Northwestern neighborhoods (includes Carmel Valley) expressed no transient-related concerns. A Mira Mesa resident had some, but acknowledged they don't have it as bad as other areas.

Reckless driving was the third most mentioned concern. In January, an intoxicted driver crashed into this building for underserved youth.

Reckless driving was the third most mentioned concern. In January, an intoxicted driver crashed into this building for underserved youth.

Even though transient-related concerns are high, police data from mid-May to mid-August 2017 show transients involved in less than four percent of incidents (Downtown and Point Loma had the most). Disturbing the peace was the top transient-related incident.

Vandalism and graffiti were the fourth most mentioned concern.

Vandalism and graffiti were the fourth most mentioned concern.

A homeless man took residence under my neighbor's kitchen window in April. He told me "the canyon is full." I witnessed him refusing help from the homeless outreach team. The officer told me that 98 percent refuse help.

Wahl said that number is closer to 89 percent. "This year, with just below 3,000 [homeless] people contacted, about seven percent have accepted placement."

Theft was the second most mentioned concern. According to Crimemapping (mid-April to mid-May), Downtown had about 28 percent of all reported thefts. Vehicle break-ins were the most frequent form of theft city-wide.

Police data showed more than 18,000 incidents of theft; downtown, City Heights, and La Jolla have the highest numbers. Burglary was the most common theft reported; La Jolla has the most.

Reckless driving was the third most mentioned concern. City Heights, Pacific Beach, and downtown had the highest number of incidents per police data. The neighborhoods that logged the most traffic stops were downtown, City Heights, and Encanto. One March traffic stop resulted in the arrest of someone with a warrant and confiscation of two AR-15 short barrel rifles with serial numbers missing.

Vandalism and graffiti were the fourth most mentioned concerns. Police data from last summer logged near 900 incidents; City Heights, downtown, and Encanto have the most.

Even though illegal dumping and litter wrapped up the list of top five concerns, only 26 incidents were logged in police data last summer.

City-wide, police data showed theft and disturbing the peace as the most reported incidents (more than 18,000 each). Downtown and City Heights were the neighborhoods with the most incidents on both counts.

Lesser reported incidents included: illegal parking (5083), assaults/guns (4782), drug/alcohol-related incidents (2051), indecent exposure (366), animal-related issues (302), arson (86), and prostitution (46).

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Comments

The City just dumped the enforcement of "quality of life" issues why would anyone think that they give a crap about all the issues noted in the article. The City touts low crime rates but how many reported crimes and "blown off" by dispatch or the responding police officers. No report taken crime not committed.

The matter of crimes going unreported is a big one. Especially with the SDPD, and we've seen plenty of reports and stories about their indifference, many people just figure that there's no point in making an official report or complaint. If you're sure nothing will be done, why take the time and expend the effort? So, I think that they are hiding behind those statistics, and hoping the crime will go away. In many ways it is the low-level stuff that spoils the neighborhood. You pay plenty to live here, at the beach or in a tony district, and then are faced with homeless camps, graffiti, loose dogs, trash, theft and vandalism. It just ain't fair!

That's why a friend left North Park, and moved back to his native Wichita, Kansas. He bought a large, beautiful condo for a fraction of what they cost here. There's no "homeless camps, graffiti, loose dogs, trash, theft and vandalism" in his neighborhood. His mortgage is less than his rent for a North Park rundown apartment. Cheaper gas and car insurance, and no traffic jams or parking problems. One bad aspect: it's Trump country.

And it's also Kansas--the climate just doesn't compare. But if it is his native territory, he may get comfortable there, and the lower cost of living can help with the adjustment.

The numbers seem low. I know based on my own experiences, neighbors and those I've interviewed don't report things for a myriad of reasons. Everything from not wanting to be on hold to worrying about retaliation. Neighbors have witnessed crimes and asked me to report them. I always tell them they have to do it since I didn't witness it. The police ask questions which only someone that has witnessed a crime/incident can report on accurately.

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