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Crime in L.A. down for 10th straight year in 2012, city says

January 7, 2013 | 12:02 pm

Crime in Los Angeles fell for a 10th straight year in 2012 with significant drops in gang crime, city leaders announced Monday.

The number of homicides for the first time increased but by just one, to 298, staying below the key mark of 300.

"L.A. has the lowest violent crime per capita of any big city," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a news conference at LAPD headquarters. "For the third year in a row, we had fewer than 300 homicides."

Crime L.A.: Mapping crime in L.A. cities and neighborhoods

The mayor credited the continuing crime drop to the size of the Los Angeles Police Department at 10,000 officers, saying that cities that cut their police forces had seen crime increase.

Chief Charlie Beck said crime was down 1.5% with violent crime down 8.2% and property crime up 0.2%--160 more than in 2011.

Beck said gang homicides were down 12% reduction from the previous year, with overall gang crime down 10.8%.

The overall decline in crime was smaller than in previous years because of jumps in lower-level crimes, such as personal thefts. Cellphone thefts jumped 30%, Beck said.

There were no obvious explanations for the increase in thefts. Some crime experts said the statistics suggested the years of economic hardship facing many Angelenos may finally be having an impact on crime.

Property crimes, which occur far more frequently than violent ones and therefore have a greater influence over the city's overall crime rate, were mixed. Burglaries and auto thefts were down, but other types of common thefts were up by a few percentage points.

The decade of falling crime in Los Angeles -- which continued during the recent deep recession -- has forced many researchers and law enforcement officials to rethink the once commonly held belief that crime was linked inextricably to the economy.

Here are the figures released Monday:

Homicides: 298 in 2012, up from 297 in 2011

Rape: 773, up 4.9% from 737,

Robbery: 8,953, down 11% from 10,057

Aggravated assault: 8,769, down 6.3% from 8,829

Burglary: 16,135, down 6.4% from 17,231

Grand theft: 14,780, down 3.2% from 15,269

Burglary theft from a vehicle: 26,183, up 2.2% from 25,616

Theft: 28,767, up 4.3% from 27,590

Violent crime: 18,293, down 8.2% from 19,920

Property crime: 85,666, up 0.2% from 85,706

Overall crime: 104,159,down 1.4% from 105,626

Shooting victims: 1,187, down 9.1% from 1,306

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-- Richard Winton at LAPD headquarters

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