Laguna Beach experienced a 9 percent drop in violent crime last year, but a 20 percent increase in thefts from vehicles compared to the average in the previous five-year period, the police department said in an annual report released Wednesday.
The communities of Irvine, Mission Viejo and Santa Monica have all reported recent increase in auto burglaries as well.
Overall, Laguna tallied 62 crimes against persons, which include homicide/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Crimes against property, including burglary, larceny, vehicle theft and arson rose to 608 in 2011, compared with an average of 546 over the previous five-year period.
Larry Bammer, president of the Laguna Beach police employees association, attributes at least some of the increase in local property thefts to the affect of a recent court order to alleviate crowding in state prisons. County jails can’t accommodate the influx either. Bammer believes that larcenous parolees might find Laguna’s affluent community enticing.
Such crimes of opportunity wouldn’t occur if there were more officers visible on the streets, he said.