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High desert cities record lowest crime rates in years

January 25, 2010 |  3:15 pm

Crime in Palmdale and Lancaster has declined substantially in recent months, continuing a trend that has made the high desert towns the safest they have been in years, city and law enforcement officials said today.

The crime rate dropped 22% in Lancaster and 11% in Palmdale in 2009 compared with the previous year, authorities said.

In Palmdale, that puts the crime rate at its lowest level since 1995, city officials said. Arson fell 34%, rape was down 25% and auto theft dropped 19%, according to figures provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

However, the number of homicides increased from five in 2008 to eight in 2009, and burglaries were also up during that period.

In Lancaster, the decline in serious crime was more dramatic. City officials said the drop equates to 1,254 fewer serious crimes in 2009 compared with the previous year, or 24 fewer serious crimes each week. Particularly significant was a 45% decline in violent gang-related crime, such as homicide, rape, robbery and assault, according to statistics from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Burglaries, authorities said, decreased 23% during the same one-year period.

-- Ann M. Simmons