Crime is down 13.9 percent in Los Banos, according to a Police Department report released this week.
“I attribute that to the hard work of people who work at the Police Department and their aggressive enforcement of the law. (And) we can attribute it to citizen involvement helping us solve cases,” Police Chief Gary Brizzee said.
The report, which is sent to the FBI, chronicles major crimes including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. In 2013, there were 1,163 major crime incidents, down from 1,351 in 2012.
The Los Banos Police Department adjusted its number of homicides downward from the original figure recorded in 2013. The March 4 shooting of Shane Thomas Moore, 18, of Gustine, is recognized as the only homicide of the year in the report. The July 20 shooting death of 17-year-old Bidal Taito by a relative of a former employee of the Police Department was reclassified as an aggravated assault.
Brizzee said the classification of the Taito shooting was changed because the district attorney’s office declined to prosecute it as a homicide. The Sept. 2 officer-involved shooting death of an unidentified 43-year-old man was also listed as an aggravated assault. Police said the man was shot after he attacked the officer with a pair of scissors, stabbing him in the left arm.
Three major crime categories increased in Los Banos from 2012 to 2013. Robberies rose 29.1 percent, going from 24 to 31. Vehicle theft increased 13.8 percent, rising from 94 recorded incidents to 107. And rapes went from zero in 2012 to three last year, a 300 percent difference.
Brizzee said the cause for the increase in vehicle thefts is somewhat elusive, but the numbers can be reduced with anti-theft devices.
He said if people were more diligent about keeping their belongings in their cars safe then larcenies, which were down 10.8 percent, could be further reduced.
“Of our 691 thefts last year, about 250 of them were thefts from vehicles. Many times we find thefts from vehicles are of your phone, computer, iPad, your purse,” Brizzee said. “If people would just take those valuables and put them in (a safe place), we’d have a reduced number.”
Aggravated assaults, according to the report, dropped 36.7 percent from 117 in 2012 to 74 in 2013. Burglaries also fell from 340 to 256.
Brizzee said in 2014 the public can expect some new strategies to curtail crime.
“Like last month, we had a higher than normal number of robberies. We’re going to put some resources out to combat that,” he said.
Brizzee said he also plans to have two part-time motorcycle officers patrolling the city this year.
The Los Banos Police Department is authorized to have 38 sworn officers but employs 35. However, three trainees are in the process of completing the police academy.