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Serious crime decreases in Lancaster, Palmdale

January 24, 2011 |  3:41 pm

The number of serious and violent crimes in Lancaster and Palmdale registered a notable decrease in 2010, according to statistics released Monday by the Antelope Valley’s two largest cities.

In Lancaster, the rate of serious crimes was the lowest in more than 15 years and was down by 34% since 2007, with fewer than 300 crimes per 10,000 residents, according to the figures.

The data, compiled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, for 2010 essentially means there were 2,107 fewer serious crimes in Lancaster that year than in 2007, despite an increase in population, city officials said.

This equates to nearly six fewer serious crimes every day and more than 40 fewer serious crimes each week in 2010. Serious crimes include homicide, robbery, burglary, grand theft auto and assault.

For example, the data show that in Lancaster, the number of homicides fell from 13 in 2007 to eight in 2010; robberies went from 435 to 255 during the same period; burglaries from 1,612 to 1,033; and grand theft auto from 845 to 439.

Rape was the only serious crime to register a slight increase, from 59 incidents in 2007 to 60 last year.

Lancaster city and law enforcement officials attributed the improved crime statistics to a variety of factors, including targeted enforcement efforts by the Sheriff’s Department, aggressive public safety initiatives by Lancaster's criminal justice commission and Neighborhood Watch groups.

“In 2007, our city was overrun by gangs and crime, and many hard-working families and longtime residents were leaving Lancaster,” Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a statement. “Today, we are a much safer, happier and more engaged city.”

Lancaster’s Vice Mayor Ron Smith noted in the statement that the crime reduction was “more than just numbers.”

“What this really means is our neighborhoods are much safer, and thousands of our citizens will not be victimized,” Smith said.

In Palmdale, the crime rate plunged 26.43% over five years, according to statistics released by the city.

Figures for 2010 showed an 11.30% reduction in burglaries last year over the previous year, a 6.9% decline in larceny and thefts, a 41% drop in grand thefts and 1.14% fewer robberies.

The number of homicides and rapes in 2010, eight and 41 respectively, showed no increase from the previous year, according to the figures.

Officials said the downward trend in serious crimes was worth celebrating, despite an upward tick in the number of assaults, which rose by 3%, and arson, up by 20.7%.

Palmdale Sheriff’s Capt. Bobby Denham commended the city’s public safety office, L.A. County Probation, the state parole board and Palmdale’s more than 425 Neighborhood Watch groups.

“The accomplishments of our team approach have certainly proven that our innovative strategies are working,” Denham said in a statement.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford concurred: “The formula we have had in place for years continues to produce results,” he said.

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-- Ann M. Simmons

Click for crime reports across L.A. County on The Times' interactive database

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